Does touching the sand incur a penalty?

By: Alan Jeffery

QUESTION: Susan and Bill are playing in a tournament. On the seventh hole, Susan’s ball rests just outside a bunker. She takes her stance in the bunker, which she believes gives her the best opportunity to get on the green. She then makes a backswing and in doing so, touches the sand in the bunker. Bill says she should be penalized for touching the sand. Is Bill correct?
ANSWER: The ball is not in the hazard. The rules, therefore, allow Susan to touch the sand or ground her club in making a backswing. It should be noted the sand should be touched lightly. See USGA Decisions on the Rules of Golf 2016-2017, 13-4/1. Bill is not correct.
Golf clinics continue Saturday mornings at the driving range, 10:30-12 noon. Private lessons can also be arranged by calling GMNGC (422-GOLF). Remember, the swing’s the thing and continuous improvement is what it’s all about.

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