In the Rules of Golf, bunkers fall under the category of a “hazard.” The word hazard implies that it is not necessarily meant to be an ideal location from which to play. Players face a variety of conditions in a bunker and are sometimes required to play from an imperfect lie.
From time to time, a player may encounter stones or rocks in a bunker. By definition in The Rules of Golf, these stones are classified as “loose impediments.” If a player’s ball lies in a bunker, he is normally not allowed to touch or move such loose impediments that lie in that same bunker.
If stones are prevalent in the bunkers (or if there a large stones), the Committee may implement a Local Rule that reclassifies these stones as “movable obstructions” – thus giving the player the option to remove them from the bunker. The primary reason such a Local Rule would be put into place is safety. If located in close proximity to a ball, it is possible that during the stroke, such a stone could ricochet up and injure a player.
This Local Rule was implemented last week at the 2nd Stage of Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament at Plantation Preserve Golf Course in Plantation, Florida. On the Notice to Competitors (Local Rules), it stated…”Stones in bunkers are movable obstructions (Rule 24-1 applies).” This simple statement puts the stones in the same category as a rake, plastic cup, hot dog wrapper, etc. As you can see in the above photos, there were numerous stones present in the bunkers at this course which led the Committee to this decision. In these photos, the player would be allowed to remove these stones and, during the removal process, touch the sand without penalty.