Rules Guy: What do you do when a bunker rake is holding your ball in place?

ball against bunker rake

What do the rules say about moving a rake that is preventing your ball from rolling?

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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.

My ball in a greenside bunker was held by a rake so that it didn’t roll down the slope into the bottom of the bunker. I suggested to my playing partners that I lift the rake, which would let the ball to roll down into the bottom of the bunker. After all, that’s what it would have done so if the rake had not been there. Thoughts? —Bruce Gardner, Springs, South Africa

Sounds reasonable, Bruce … only it’s not the proper procedure.

There’s no penalty for removing the rake and causing the ball to move in the process. Nonetheless, you are required to replace the ball on its original spot, per Rules 15.2 and 9.4. If the ball won’t stay at rest on the spot after trying twice, then under Rule 14.2e you would find the nearest spot where it would stay at rest, no nearer the hole and in the same bunker.

The rules of gravity and the Rules of Golf aren’t always one and the same.

Rules Guy bunker
Rules Guy: Do you have to take a penalty for *every* swing that touches sand in a bunker?
By: Rules Guy

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

Is a patch of grass that’s not mowed to fairway height but within the perimeter of a big bunker, considered in the sand bunker — meaning that you can’t ground the club? —JD Masur, via email

A lawyerly question from a JD — how appropriate!

The definition of bunker tells us that soil, or any growing or attached natural object inside the edge of the bunker, is not, repeat not, part of the bunker. Thus, you could indeed ground your club on the grass itself.

Caveat! If it’s a small patch of grass, make sure the ball isn’t touching any of the sand in the bunker, which brings in a host of complex issues around Rule 8 and lightly touching the sand while grounding the club that would probably wind up in a 5-4 decision at the Supreme Court.

As you don’t want me to bill you my hourly rate, let’s leave it at that.

Need help unriddling the greens at your home course? Pick up a custom Green Book from 8AM Golf affiliate 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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