Grass Mounds in Bunkers

Grass Mounds in Bunkers

During the 1st round of the RBC Heritage a spectator asked me about the recently added grass mounds located within some of the bunkers.

Can a player ground his club on the grass?


Can a player touch the grass with his club if his ball lies on the grass?


What if his ball lies in the bunker?  Can he touch the grass with his club then?


The answer lies in the definition of a bunker.  “Grass covered ground bordering with or within a bunker…is not part of the bunker”.

Grass Mounds in Bunkers

Grass covered ground bordering with or within a bunker is not part of the bunker

Therefore, yes, the player can touch the grass mounds in the bunker.  However, the spectator then wanted to know how that answer is different from the famous Harbour Town Golf Links ruling which involved Brian Davis.

In 2010 at the RBC Heritage, Brian Davis and Jim Furyk were competing in a playoff.  Brian had hit his ball in the hazard on #18 and chose to play the ball as it lies.  While making a stroke, Brian ticked a loose reed in the hazard (loose impediment) on his back swing causing a 2 stroke penalty and subsequently lost the tournament.

Rule 13-4 comes into play when dealing with Brian Davis’ situation and answering the question asked by the interested spectator.  This rules states in part:  

“If a ball is in a hazard the player must not touch or move a loose impediment lying in or touching the hazard”.  The rule also states that “at any time, including at address or in the backward movement for the stroke, the player may touch, with a club or otherwise, any grass, bush, tree or other growing thing”.  

From the definition of a bunker and the application of Rule 13-4 it is clear to see how these two questions are quite different and good ones asked by the spectator.

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