For so many recreational golfers, finding a bunker leads to a complete panic. Most recreational golfers don’t have a chance to practice their bunker play regularly. When their ball winds up in the sand, then, it’s a cause for concern.
Many golfers get even more frightened when their ball creates a fried egg as it partially buries in the sand. From a buried lie, a regular golfer could easily take two shots or more to get out of a bunker. Getting stuck in a bunker is frustrating, slows down the game and can ruin the enjoyment of a round. However, relief is in sight.
Under the 2019 Rules of Golf, a golfer will be able to pull their ball out of a bunker, albeit under penalty.
Declaring an unplayable lie in a bunker
With the new golf rules, a golfer will not only be able to declare their ball unplayable in a bunker, but they will be allowed to take relief outside of a bunker in exchange for a two-stroke penalty. The relief will be taken using the new drop procedure, with the relief spot determined by back-on-the-line relief. Back-on-the-line relief is determined as an area behind the ball on the line from the hole to where the ball is. The golfer is allowed to go as far back on that line as they wish, then pick a reference point and drop within one club length.
While the golfer picks up a two-stroke penalty, the player is able to pick the relief spot for their next shot and set up a more favorable lie and yardage. That’s not a bad trade, particularly when a ball is embedded in the face of a steep bunker.
This new rule allows a golfer to continue playing in a stroke-play competition by holing out more quickly and saving potential embarrassment and frustration. However, for a golfer still able to play from the bunker, they could declare an unplayable lie in the bunker, take a drop in the bunker and use just a one-stroke penalty.