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Searching for a ball in a hazard
Rules of the game
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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: Martha and Joan were playing a friendly round of golf. Joan hit her shot into a hazard but was having difficulty in finding her ball. She began to move some loose impediments and sand in an effort to locate her ball. Martha said that if they were playing in a tournament, Joan would be penalized for grounding her club in a hazard, and if she moved her ball while searching for it, she would also be penalized. Is Martha correct?

Answer: No. In a hazard, if a ball is believed to be covered by loose impediments or sand, Joan may remove by probing or raking with a club or otherwise, as many loose impediments or as much sand as will enable her to see a part of the ball. If an excess is removed, there is no penalty and the ball must be re-covered so that only a part of the ball is visible. If the ball is moved during the removal, there is no penalty, but the ball must be replaced and if necessary recovered so that only a small part is visible.

Note: Sapelo Hammock golf course is under new ownership. Shellman Bluff Acquisitions, LLC (a group of primarily local investors and homeowners) has purchased the club and after extensive recovery and enhancement, plans on opening the course for play this summer.

As always, have fun playing and practicing the game of golf. E-mail me at if you have any questions or suggestions.


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