Purpose: Rule 12 is a specific Rule for bunkers, which are specially prepared areas intended to test your ability to play a ball from the sand. To make sure you confront this challenge, there are some restrictions on touching the sand before your stroke is made and on where relief may be taken for your ball in a bunker.
When Your Ball Is in Bunker
DIAGRAM 12.1: WHEN BALL IS IN BUNKER
In line with the Definition of Bunker and Rule 12.1, the diagram provides examples of when a ball is in and not in a bunker.
Your ball is in a bunker when any part of it touches sand on the ground inside the edge of the bunker.Your ball is also in a bunker if it is inside the edge of the bunker and rests:
On ground where sand would normally be, or
In or on a loose impediment, movable obstruction, abnormal course condition or integral object in the bunker.
If your ball lies on soil or grass or other growing or attached natural objects inside the edge of the bunker without touching sand, your ball is not in the bunker.
Playing Your Ball in Bunker
Removing Loose Impediments and Movable Obstructions
Before playing your ball in a bunker, you may remove loose impediments and movable obstructions.
Restrictions on Touching Sand in Bunker
Before making a stroke at your ball in a bunker, you must not:
Deliberately touch sand in the bunker with your hand, a club or rake or any other object to test the condition of the sand and learn information for your next stroke, or
Touch sand in the bunker with your club:
In the area right in front of or right behind your ball (except as allowed in fairly searching for your ball or in removing a loose impediment or movable obstruction),
In making a practice swing, or
In making your backswing for a stroke.
Except as covered in the two bullets above, the following actions are allowed:
Digging in with your feet to take a stance for a practice swing or the stroke,
Smoothing the bunker to care for the course,
Placing your clubs, equipment or other objects in the bunker (whether by throwing or setting them down),
Measuring, marking, lifting, replacing or taking other actions under a Rule,
Leaning on a club to rest, stay balanced or prevent a fall, or
Striking the sand in frustration or anger.
But you get the general penalty if your actions in touching the sand improve the conditions affecting your stroke.Penalty for Breach of Rule 12.2: General Penalty.
Specific Rules for Relief for Ball in Bunker
When your ball is in a bunker, specific relief Rules may apply when you have interference by an abnormal course condition (Rule 16.1c) or a dangerous animal condition (Rule 16.2), or when your ball is unplayable (Rule 19.3).