If you’ve heard that you can now take the ball out of the bunker if you feel your lie is unplayable, then you heard correctly.  But there’s a bit more to it than that. 

You’ve always been able to take Stroke and Distance relief for an unplayable lie, which means going back to the shot that got you into that pesky bunker in the first place. That remains one of your options in 2019 under Rule 14.6a.

You may also take Lateral Relief under 19.3(a)3, as you see me demonstrate in the below video.

Watch the video below!






You may take back-on-the-line relief under Rule 19.3(a)2 but you’ll need to stay in the bunker for that shot.

New Option in 2019

And as of January 2019 you have the new option of taking back-on-the-line relief outside of the bunker, under Rule 19.3(a)4. This one might not be too popular, though, as it will cost you a two-stroke penalty.

My personal preference is to take stroke & distance relief because it only costs one penalty stroke, and I’m a bit more skilled at hitting from the fairway or rough than I am from the bunker. But, hey, that’s just me, you do what floats your boat now that you have four options!

Club Length

Keep in mind that a “club length” is defined as the longest club in your bag, except for your putter. It’s usually your driver, unless you don’t have a driver that day!

It’s a good idea to grab your driver to measure, but it’s not actually required that you do so – you may estimate the length of your driver — Other players may disagree with you on this one, but just send them to me and I’ll straighten them out! But in any type of a tournament I’d take the time to go grab your driver!

EXPERT TIP: Rule 19.1a says that the player is the only person who may decide to treat his or hear ball as unplayable. Don’t let anyone talk you out of your right to take relief for a one stroke penalty if you feel it’s unplayable.

See more of the 2019 Rules of Golf at USGA.org


Marcela launched Girlfriends Guide To Golf and her On-Course Rules Experiences to grow the game, help women learn the rules of golf, and feel more confident out on the course.

Recommended Posts