When is a bunker not a bunker?

…when it’s at the PGA Championship this week.

Photo courtesy of Wei Under Par. Click to enlarge.

In a bid to avoid any issues with defining what is and isn’t a bunker, US PGA Championship organisers have deemed that sandy areas are officially “through the green” this week.

The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island has plenty sandy wasteland type areas as well as rough style bunkers where the procedure for play may be confused. Ruling all sandy areas as ‘not bunkers’ means that when players land in a bunker, the normal hazard rules will not apply.
The decision will of course avoid any disastrous situations we have seen in the past. The most notable of course being the controversy that surrounded Dustin Johnson’s finish at the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, often nicknamed ‘Bunkergate’. Stuart Appleby had ran into similar problems at Whistling Straits six years earlier.

All players who find themselves in a sandy lie on any part of the golf course can go right ahead and take a practice swing and make contact with the ground without fear of being penalised for testing the ground conditions. In fact, they don’t even have to use the rake.
Stephanie Wei at Weu Under Par posted the image (see above) of the notice provided to all players at the US PGA Championship this week which goes into great detail about the local rule and it does mention that rakes will be provided. It is obviously common courtesy to the players following to rake over any nasty footprints or big divots, but players and their caddies are under no obligation to use them.
This will be pretty pleasing to some of golf traditionalists like Australia’s own legendary golfer Peter Thomson who has been advocating for bunkers to return to being proper hazards for many years.

We’re pretty pleased with this ruling here too. Grounding a club in a bunker has always seemed like a silly rule and if you’ve ever played golf on a public golf course late on a Sunday afternoon, unraked bunkers and bad lies are par for the course, so to speak.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.