What does it mean that Dustin Johnson "ground" his club in a bunker?

The news stories I’ve read mentioned that he wasn’t supposed to do it and that they were playing with local rules that made all sand traps into bunkers, or something like that, but what did he actually do with his club?

It just means touching the ground with your club before the shot. It’s not allowed in bunkers because it can shift the sand and change the lie.

You can’t ground your club (**Dio **got it in one, as expected) or in lateral hazards, marked with red stakes. So, for example, when you watch/play gold and you see the red stakes by water hazards or wetland areas, you can go in and find your ball, but if you find it, you can’t ground your club in that hazard, for the reason that **Dio **also pointed out.

The problem in that instance was, the sand trap in question was in the gallery and people had trampled it until it was unrecognizable as a sand trap. The rule in question states basically, ‘if it was built as a bunker, you should treat it as a bunker’ (no matter what the gallery has done to it)

Yes, you should always “accidentally” step right behind the ball while standing on your toes to look for the flag instead.

I’m sure that you meant that as a joke, but just to warn those who didn’t recognize it as such: stepping right behind your ball while it’s in a hazard would be “improving your lie” which is also cause for a penalty.

Yes, 13-4 says that when your ball is in a hazard, you cannot test the condition of the ground by feeling it, touching it with your club, or touching or moving any loose impediment that might be lying around. “Hazard,” includes both a bunker, as Diogenes mentions, and water hazards, both lateral water hazards as LOUNE mentions (marked by red stakes) and ordinary water hazards (marked by yellow stakes).

I got into a debate on a related point several years ago when my ball came to rest in a water hazard: a small stream that crossed the fairway, right to left, about two thirds of the way to the hole. (Hole 7 at Greendale in Fairfax County, Virgina, if anyone cares…) I obstinately decided that I was not going to drop and take a stroke penalty. I was going to hit it out from the water. It was only about two inches under water; I could see the ball, resting nicely on a gray gravel bottom, almost teed up.

So I took several practice swings at the water a few feet away to get the feel of hitting out of the water… never touching the gravel bottom. My opponent objected to this, saying it constituted grounding the club in the hazard. I said it didn’t.

Someone’s taking golf bit seriously… I’m guessing you don’t play nude twelve-pack golf?

Two stroke penalty. You most definitely grounded your club in the hazard. You were explicitly “testing the condition” of the hazard.

I’ve played Greendale (AKA The Rockpile) a hundred times back in high school.

Unfortunately the dress codes at the courses I play preclude doing so.

Agreed. Once we got home and were able to review the rules (pre-smartphone era) it was clear I was in the wrong.

Probably my favorite (at the time) of the Fairfax County courses. Since then, Twin Lakes’ upgrades have taken it to the top of the list.

You ever play Penderbrook? That course has generated some stories…

I went away to college and never came back except for visits. I’ve lived in Colorado for 25 years. I’ve never heard of Penderbrook. I used to play a course further south near Manassas or Occoquan whose name is escaping me. Off to Google…

Pohick Bay.

I worked one summer at Belle Haven Country Club in Alexandria. It was a stereotypical Southern Country Club at the time. All white, no women members, members were mean and nasty to the staff and rascist as all hell. The staff did their best to make it into a real life version of “Caddyshack”, with some sucess.