Found ball should be reburied

Q. I played in California at a course that had deep bunkers with very high sides. The bunkers were raked with furrows starting from the bottom and going to the top of the bunker. I hit my ball into the bunker and when we got to the bunker we couldn’t find my ball. There was one small blemish in the perfectly raked sand near the top of the bunker so we figured the ball must have buried in this spot.

I dug under the sand about an inch and found the ball. No one in our group seemed to know the rule or the options to play it. I identified my ball and replaced it in the hole in the sand then hit it out. Should I have re-covered it with sand as my opponent (brother) thought? If I had to cover it, could I have taken an unplayable lie since I couldn’t see it and dropped it in the bottom area of the bunker where it was flat? — Mike Randesi

A. You should have listened to your brother. After finding and identifying your ball you needed to replace it in the hole and cover it up with sand leaving a small part of the ball visible. If you then decided you could not make a shot you could have taken an unplayable lie either by going back to the last place you originally played from (Rule 28a) or dropping the ball in the bunker (28b or 28c).

Q. Does the new definition of addressing the ball mean that if I address it and it moves I never receive a penalty? — Patty S.

A. No, and I’m sure there will be some confusion on this. What the rule states is, if you address the ball and it is known or virtually certain that an outside element (such as wind) moved the ball, there is no penalty. If you have addressed the ball and you did something to cause it to move, you must replace it and take a penalty stroke. Sometimes just the act of grounding your club in front or behind the ball will cause it to move.

Q. I play with a friend who wears an iPod while he is playing. I find it very distracting and have asked him to cease doing this. He says listening to music helps him relax. Is this OK under the rules of golf? — Sam Yates

A. There is a new decision, 14-3/17, for 2012 stating that the use of an artificial device to listen to music or a broadcast, whether or not through headphones, while making a stroke or for a prolonged period of time during a stipulated round is a breach of Rule 14-3. However, it would not be a breach of this rule for a player to listen to a device briefly, for example, to obtain the results of another sporting event or traffic information, while walking between the putting green of one hole and the teeing ground of the next hole or even sitting in the cart waiting to play the next hole.

Q. I took sprinkler head relief and dropped my ball in the fairway and it embedded on impact. Do I still get relief for an embedded ball? — Jules Smithers

A. Yes, you do under Rule 25-2. You may pick your ball up, clean it and drop it as near as possible to the spot where it lay but not nearer the hole. Do not fix the pitch mark until after you play the ball.

Sue May is a U.S. Open rules official . Address your rules questions to

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