Playing golf is fun, whether playing solo or with others. Having a basic understanding of the game’s rules makes it easier to enjoy the experience and improve your skills. In this periodic column, I provide brief explanations of golf rules and answer commonly asked questions.
Question: Pat and John are playing in a tournament. Recent rain has left a lot of water in the sand bunker abutting the ninth green. John strokes his ball and it comes to rest in the water in the sand bunker. John tells Pat that he is going to play his shot as it lies even though he is entitled to relief from casual water. John addresses his ball and his club touches the water — but not the sand — until he takes his stroke. Pat says John incurs a penalty for touching the casual water with his club. Is Pat correct?
Answer: No. John did not touch the sand prior to his stroke. There is no penalty for touching the water in a sand bunker. However, John would be penalized if he touches the water in a water hazard while addressing the ball and prior to taking his stroke.
Lewis is a certified teaching professional at Sapelo Hammock Golf Course and a member of the United States Golf Teachers Federation. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.