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Rake, club, hands can be used to search bunker

Q. I hit my ball into a greenside bunker where it plugged and we couldn’t see it. I knew I had to find my ball in order for it not to be lost, but we weren’t sure of the procedure since the bunker is a hazard. Could I have used the rake or my club to find the ball? Did I have to put the ball back after I found it? Can I rake up all the footprints we made while looking for my ball? — Len Scully

A. When you are searching for your ball in a bunker you may use the rake, a club or your hands to help you find and identify your ball. If you find your ball and decide to play it, you need to replace it in the same lie and cover it up with as much sand as will enable you to see a part of the ball. If you decide not to play your ball and want to take an unplayable lie, you don’t need to replace your ball in its original spot. Whatever you decide to do, the bunker cannot be cleaned up (raked) before you drop a ball in the bunker or play your first shot out of the bunker.

Q. I was playing with Len when his ball ended up plugged in the bunker. When he took his unplayable lie did he have to stay in the bunker? Could he have placed his ball instead of dropping it? — Sam Stillwell

A. I can see you and Len had a tough day with the Rules of Golf. When a ball is unplayable in a bunker you have three options. Play a ball as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played; this spot could be outside the bunker. Drop a ball behind the point where the ball lay, keeping that point directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped, with no limit to how far behind that point the ball may be dropped as long as you drop in the bunker. Drop a ball within two club-lengths of the spot where the ball lay, but not nearer the hole, and this spot must be in the bunker. In all cases the ball must be dropped not placed.

Q. I heard that the Nevada State Seniors organization is going to open its tournaments up to women players. Do you have any information on this?

A. At its February board of directors meeting, the Nevada State Seniors Golf Club voted to include wives and significant others as members of the club. This is a significant change to the membership of this all-male club that has been in existence since 1974. The club anticipates including separate competitive flights for the female members in each of its monthly tournaments.

The club hosts a golf tournament every month at a course in the Las Vegas area, and approximately three to four events in the surrounding communities of St. George, Utah, Lake Havasu City, Ariz., and Mesquite, Nev. Its upcoming tournament on March 12 and 13 will be an individual match play event at Sun City Summerlin Highland Falls and Palm Valley. Information on membership may be obtained on its website at www.NSSGC.org.

Sue May is a U.S. Open rules official, a member of the USGA Senior Women’s committee and tournament director of the Women’s Trans National Championship. Address your rules questions to suemay@cox.net.

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