Complete Guide to Handling a Ball Resting Against a Rake in Golf

Colin McCarthy

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Ball Resting Against A Rake

Imagine you’re out on the golf course, and your ball comes to rest against a rake. It’s a common scenario, but do you know the proper steps to take next?

Understanding how to handle a ball resting against a movable obstruction like a rake can save you from unnecessary penalties and confusion.

According to Rule 15.2a, you can remove the rake, but if the ball moves, you must replace it. If it won’t stay put after two tries, place it at the nearest spot where it remains at rest, no closer to the hole and not in a hazard.

This rule ensures fair play, even when dealing with tricky course conditions. Additionally, always mark the ball’s original position before moving the rake to avoid any disputes. Knowing these rules helps maintain the integrity of your game and ensures a smooth, enjoyable round.

Deciphering Golf Rules: Ball Resting Against a Rake

Understanding the rules of golf, especially in scenarios involving obstructions like rakes, is crucial for maintaining fair play and integrity on the course. Here’s a breakdown of key aspects to understand:

Identifying the Situation

When your ball comes to rest against a rake, it’s essential to recognize it as a movable obstruction. According to Rule 15.2a, you are allowed to remove the rake without penalty. However, the ruling differs depending on whether the ball is outside or inside a bunker.

  • Outside a Bunker: If the ball moves while you’re removing the rake, you can replace it without penalty.
  • Inside a Bunker: If the ball moves after removing the rake, you may incur a penalty.

Determining the Appropriate Action

Once you’ve removed the rake, if the ball moves, you must replace it in its original spot. However, if the ball ends up in a hazard like a bunker and replacing it causes it to move again, Rule 20.3d applies.

You should attempt to place the ball twice where it originally rested. If it continues moving, find the nearest spot where the ball stays at rest, no closer to the hole.

Historical Precedents and Interpretations

Understanding historical precedents and interpretations regarding the rules of golf, particularly concerning scenarios involving obstructions like rakes, provides valuable insights into fair play and decision-making on the course. Here’s a closer look:

Key Cases and Rulings

Several notable cases have shaped how rules about balls resting against rakes are interpreted:

2016 U.S. Open

Dustin Johnson’s ball moved after he addressed it on the green. Although not directly related to a rake, this case reaffirmed that if a ball moves due to natural forces after the player has taken action, specific rules govern the appropriate response.

2019 PGA Tour Event

A ruling emphasized that when a ball lies against a movable obstruction like a rake, you may remove the obstruction, and if the ball moves, replace it without penalty, per USGA Rule 15.2a.

Impact on the Game

Understanding these interpretations significantly impacts gameplay:

  • Consistent Application: Rulings ensure consistent application of rules across different tournaments and levels of competition.
  • Strategic Considerations: Players strategize based on whether a penalty may apply, particularly in competitive play where strokes matter.

Differentiation in Rules

Differentiation in rules based on whether the ball is inside or outside a bunker is a critical aspect:

  • Outside Bunker: No penalty for the ball moving after removing the rake.
  • Inside Bunker: Risk of penalty if the ball moves after rake removal.

Ensuring Fairness and Integrity

By clarifying when penalties apply versus when they do not, these rulings ensure fairness and integrity in the game. Players can navigate situations involving obstructions like rakes with confidence, knowing the rules and historical precedents governing such scenarios.

How to Properly Handle the Situation?

Handling a situation where your ball is resting against a rake on the golf course requires following specific steps to ensure fair play and adherence to the rules. Here’s how golfers can properly handle this scenario:

Steps for Golfers

Handling a situation where your golf ball is resting against a rake on the course requires specific steps to ensure fair play and adherence to the rules. Here’s a guide for golfers:

  • Identify the Location: Determine if the rake is inside or outside the bunker where your ball rests.
  • Gently Move the Rake: If the rake is outside the bunker, carefully move it to avoid disturbing the ball. Remember, there is no penalty if the ball moves while you’re removing the rake.
  • Replace the Ball: If the ball moves after you remove the rake, place it back in its original position without penalty.
  • Inside the Bunker: If the ball and rake are inside a bunker, follow Rule 20-3d. Remove the rake, and if the ball rolls into the bunker and can’t be replaced after two attempts, place it at the nearest spot not closer to the hole where it stays at rest.
  • Mark the Ball’s Position: Before moving the rake, mark the ball’s position to ensure accurate replacement if necessary.

Role of Course Officials

Course officials play a crucial role in managing such situations:

  • Placement of Rakes: Officials should ensure rakes are consistently placed outside bunkers to minimize interference with play.
  • Enforcement of Rules: Officials must oversee the enforcement of Rule 20-3d in competitive play, ensuring correct ball placement and preventing penalties.

Preventative Measures and Best Practices

Implementing preventative measures and best practices on the golf course helps minimize potential issues and ensures a smoother, fairer game for all players. Here are some key strategies:

Equipment and Course Design

Ensure the placement of rakes adheres to course rules, avoiding locations inside bunkers. Course designers and maintenance teams can install designated rake holders outside bunker areas to prevent interference with play.

Consider clear signage indicating proper rake positions, reducing the likelihood of players encountering obstructions. Invest in lightweight, easy-to-move rakes that minimize disruptions when repositioned.

Training and Awareness

Educate players on correct procedures when their ball rests against a rake. Emphasize the importance of knowing Rule 15.2, which allows you to move the rake and replace the ball without penalty if it moves.

During training sessions, instructors should practice scenarios involving movable obstructions, ensuring players feel confident handling such situations.

Spread awareness through club newsletters, workshops, and signage at courses, reinforcing the correct actions when encountering these obstructions.

Frequently Asked Questions

How should a rake be placed when not in use?

Leave the rake outside of the bunker, running parallel with the hole. This placement reduces the likelihood of interference with play.

Is there a penalty for not raking a bunker?

Yes, under Rule 8.1a(3), failing to rake a bunker may result in improving the conditions and incurs a general penalty of two strokes in stroke play or loss of hole in match play.

Should the rake be left in the bunker?

No, the USGA recommends placing rakes outside of bunkers, away from play areas to minimize interference.

Can I declare a ball unplayable in a bunker?

Yes, a player can declare a ball unplayable in a bunker and take relief with a one-stroke penalty under Rule 19.2, with specific conditions for dropping the ball in the bunker.

Why is he called the rake?

The Rake gets its name from its long, rake-like claws. The earliest mention comes from a mariner’s log dated 1691, describing a creature with such features.


Navigating the complexities of golf rules can be daunting, but understanding how to handle a ball resting against a rake is crucial. By adhering to Rule 15.2 and following best practices, you can ensure fair play and maintain the integrity of the game.

Proper placement of rakes and ongoing education for both players and course officials are key to preventing unnecessary penalties. With these strategies in place, you’ll be well-prepared to tackle any challenges that arise on the course.

Remember, knowledge and preparation are your best tools for success in golf. Both players and course officials should regularly familiarize themselves with the latest updates to the rules.

By staying informed, you’ll improve your own game and contribute to a smoother, more enjoyable experience for everyone on the course.

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Colin McCarthy

Golf is about mastering your misses and learning from them. I seek answers on the how and why of the golf swing, gaining experience even when answers elude me. With over 11,000 hours of teaching and a hunger for learning, I welcome any questions. My goal is to introduce golf to as many as possible, simplifying the game for all to enjoy. Passionate, eager, and ambitious, I'm here to teach, listen, and learn. LinkedIn

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