Rules Guy: Can I ask the player in the group ahead to come back and rake his footprints in my line of play?

footprints in bunker

What do the rules say about asking a player in the group ahead to come back and rake the footprints he left?

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The Rules of Golf are tricky! Thankfully, we’ve got the guru. Our Rules Guy knows the book front to back. Got a question? He’s got all the answers.

Your ball is in a bunker with footprints on your line of play, made by a guy in the group ahead. Can you call him back to rake his tracks before you play your next shot? —Bruce Kristinson, Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada

Bruce, since you’re Canadian, we’re sure this request would be made politely… but it would certainly be trouble for you and likely for Bigfoot too.

Rule 1.3 prevents you from having another player do something that would be a penalty were you to do it yourself — in this case, breach Rule 8.1, which restricts a player from improving the “conditions affecting your stroke.”

Also, Rule 8.3 prevents this other (slovenly) player from deliberately doing the same. While he could conceivably be off the hook if part of his reason for belatedly raking the trap was to care for the course, it’s best to let sleeping dogs lie. Play your shot as is. No doubt you’ll remember to rake the bunker!

For more bunker-related guidance from our guru, read on …

Rules Guy: Is it legal to remove gravel from a bunker?
By: Rules Guy

Our course has a few refurbished bunkers built with an Astroturf base and revetted faces of stacked Astro­turf. Some of the bunkers only have a thin coating of sand, which can produce bladed shots when the wedge’s bounce hits that Astro­turf base. I know the new rules don’t allow you to test the surface with your hand or club, but what about checking the sand’s depth with a long tee? —Jim Cumberbatch, via e-mail

Stacked Astroturf … it sounds like the club hired Old Tom Morris as the architect and Sanford & Son as the contractor!

In point of fact, the Rule number — 12.2b(1) — may have changed but this Rule hasn’t, namely, players are prohibited from touching the sand in a bunker to glean information about it for the next stroke. No hand, no club, no tee, no rake, no garden shovel.

The penalty also remains the same — the general penalty of two strokes in stroke play and loss of hole in match play. More commonly, should you come across a bunker with little to no sand not staked as ground under repair, you can: Play two balls, one as it lies and one taking relief, and get a ruling later from the commit­tee (stroke play only); play under stroke and distance, replaying from the prior spot with a one-stroke pen­alty; or, under the new ball-unplay­able rule, drop outside the bunker, using back-on-the-line relief, for two penalty strokes. Also, if they replace the greens with shag car­peting, find a new course.

Need help unriddling the greens at your home course? Pick up a custom Green Book from Golf Logix.

Got a question about the Rules? Ask the Rules Guy! Send your queries, confusions and comments to We promise he won’t throw the book at you.

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