Rules & Etiquette Q&A: Are You In or Are You Out?

It’s one of golf’s most-disputed questions: Should you leave the rake inside the bunker or out? That, double ball hits and more is answered in this Rule and Etiquette Q&A.

By Genger Fahleson for Golf Digest Woman

Q: Is there a rule about how you should place the rake in the bunker after you’ve raked the sand? I’ve heard that the tip of the handle should be on the edge of the bunker and the rake’s end should be in the sand.

A: There’s no rule that dictates how rakes should be placed either in or around a bunker, but the USGA does recommend that rakes be placed outside the bunker, where they are least likely to affect play (Misc./2, Whether Rakes Should Be Placed In or Outside Bunkers).

Q: A fellow-competitor hooked her drive into some deep rough. When she pitched out, two balls came flying out. Apparently another one was buried near hers. Should she have been penalized for playing the wrong ball?

A: Your friend intended to hit her own ball, not the other one, so she didn’t play the wrong ball. She incurred no penalty and should have continued to play her own from where it came to rest (Decision 15/2, Player’s Stroke at Own Ball Dislodges Concealed Ball).

Q: My friend hit a shot toward the green that veered off line and hit a cart in the group ahead of us. A player in our group said that there was no penalty for this. I thought that if your ball hits a piece of equipment, you incur a two-stroke penalty. What is the rule?

A: A player is penalized when her ball strikes her own equipment or her partner’s, but not if the ball hits another player’s gear. The situation you describe would be a “rub of the green” (Rule 19-1, Ball Deflected or Stopped by Golf Cart Shared by Two Players), which means there’s no penalty and the ball must be played from where it came to rest after the deflection.

Q: I thought golfers weren’t allowed to press down or move grass while repairing divots on the green. But tour players use their putters to tap down repaired ball marks. Doesn’t this alter the grass?

A: Players are allowed—and encouraged—to repair ball marks and damage to the green caused by the impact of the ball (Rule 16-1c, Repair of Hole Plugs, Ball Marks and Other Damage). Proper repair includes tapping down raised tufts of grass caused by the repair tool or a ball.

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