No.84 Ball in Leaves in Bunker

In stroke play, a player thinks that their yellow ball is in a bunker, which is partly covered with leaves.

Question 1:
In searching for their ball may the player probe the leaves with ...
a) ... their hands?
b) ... their club?
c) ... a rake?

Question 2:
After finding a ball in the leaves in the bunker, if the player cannot identify it as theirs, may they mark its position and lift it?

Answer 1:
a), b) and c) Yes. Rule 12-1.

Part of Rule 12-1b states;
In a hazard, if the player's ball is believed to be covered by loose impediments to the extent that he cannot find or identify it, he may, without penalty, touch or move loose impediments in order to find or identify the ball.
If the ball is found or identified as his, the player must replace the loose impediments. If the ball is moved during the touching or moving of loose impediments while searching for or identifying the ball, Rule 18-2a applies; if the ball is moved during the replacement of the loose impediments, there is no penalty and the ball must be replaced.
If the ball was entirely covered by loose impediments, the player must re-cover the ball but is permitted to leave a small part of the ball visible.

Answer 2:
Yes, providing they announce that they intend to mark and lift their ball to a fellow-competitor and give them an opportunity to witness the lifting and replacement. Rule 12-2.


Question 3:
Having found their yellow ball surrounded by leaves in a bunker may the player touch those leaves ...
a)    ... with their club while preparing to make their stroke?
b)    ... in taking a practice swing?
c)    ... on the backswing of their stroke?

Answer 3:
a), b) and c) No. Rule 13-4c.

Note: Rule 13-4c states that before making a stroke at a ball that is in a hazard the player must not touch or move a loose impediment lying in or touching the hazard. A stroke only commences with the forward movement of the club  made with the intention of striking at and moving the ball.

Another 'Rhodes Rules School' Q&A will follow next week,
Good golfing,
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