During the second round of play during the 2013 Solheim Cup, an official made a ruling for the European team playing foursomes. The ball was in a bunker and one member of the European team hit the ball; it lodged in a plant in the bunker and was declared unplayable. The European team was allowed to remove the ball from the bunker and play the next shot keeping the point where the ball was unplayable between them and the pin (option c). I thought that the ball had to remain in the bunker under these circumstances. Even though the ball may not have been lying on the sand in the bunker, it was within the confines of the bunker and bunker definition is vertically down. Could you please clarify? Was the ruling correct?
When the European team hit the ball into the plant that was within the confines of the bunker, the ball was no longer touching the sand. Within the definition of a Bunker in the Rules of Golf is: The margin of a bunker extends vertically downwards, but not upwards. A ball is in a bunker when it lies in or any part of it touches the bunker. Because the margins of a bunker do not extend vertically upward, a ball could lie in a plant or tree and be overhanging the bunker and not be “in the bunker” based on the Rules of Golf.
The ball did not lie in the bunker when it came to rest in the plant, it lay through the green but overhanging the bunker. Consequently, when the European team decided to proceed under Rule 28, Ball Unplayable, they were allowed to drop the ball outside the bunker (option b) under that Rule. Decisions 13/3 and 28/9 will also help to understand:
13/3 Ball on Edge of Bunker Overhanging Sand
Q. Is a ball in a bunker if it lies on the edge of the bunker overhanging, but not touching, the sand?
A. No. The margin of a bunker, unlike that of a water hazard, does not extend vertically upwards.
28/9 Ball Lying on Grass-Covered Ground Within Bunker Deemed Unplayable
Q. A player's ball is lying on grass-covered ground within a bunker. The player deems the ball unplayable and elects to drop it under Rule 28b. Must he drop it in the bunker?
A. No. Grass-covered ground within a bunker is not part of the bunker. Accordingly, the player may drop the ball behind the bunker.