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Do I Get to Drop Out of a Bunker that's Filled with Water?

Golf Rules FAQ

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Water in Bunker

If you hit your ball into a bunker that has water in it - as this golfer did - where do you get to drop the ball? And is it a free drop, or is there a penalty?

Ryan Pierse / Getty Images
The scenario is this: You're playing golf on a course that has some water on it - after a rain, or after the sprinkler system busted. Whatever. There's water. You play a stroke and, whoops, your ball winds up in a bunker. So you trudge up to the bunker to play a sand shot, only to discover that the bunker has water in it. Do you get to drop outside of that bunker?

Only if you're willing to take a 1-stroke penalty.

If your ball comes to rest in casual water within a bunker, you may drop without penalty at the nearest point of relief within the bunker, no nearer the hole. That applies no matter what the condition is of the rest of the bunker.

If the rest of the bunker is dry, great. But even if the entire bunker contains water, the same rule applies - if you drop, you must drop within that bunker to avoid penalty. So if the bunker is completely filled with water, your only option to improve the situation without penalty is this, according to the USGA Web site: "... the player may drop the ball in the bunker at a point that provides maximum available relief (i.e., in 1 inch of water rather than 5 inches)."

If no relief is available inside the bunker, then you can assess yourself a 1-stroke penalty and drop outside the bunker, no nearer the hole.

In the rulebook, see Rule 25-1.

Return to Golf Rules FAQ index

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