Golfer gets a LADDER to play his shot from the bunker

What is the penalty for building a stance to play a golf shot? Golf Rules Questions takes a closer look...

Andy Roberts's picture
Mon, 19 Oct 2020

Golfer gets a LADDER to play his shot from the bunker

A golf video has gone viral after a player decided to play a shot from off the top of a LADDER while in a pot bunker. Only it did not end too well! 

What made the shot even more ridiculous was that the golfer in question could have taken free relief due to his ball being embedded in the face of the bunker. Golf Rules Questions on Instagram posted the video (below), and then took a closer look at the golfer's penalty due to "building a stance."



"This is considered building a stance, for which the penalty is the general penalty," says GRQ on its latest Instagram post. 

This means a two-stroke penalty in strokeplay, and a loss of hole in matchplay. 


Unfortunately for the golfer, he would have been entitled to free relief had he known the rules of golf due to his ball being embedded in the face of the lip of the bunker. This falls under Rule 16

However, the golf rule in question for this particular video of "building a stance" via the ladder is Rule 8.1a, which you can learn more about in the following definition from the R&A's Player Edition:



8.1 - Your Actions That Improve Conditions Affecting Your Stroke

This Rule restricts what you may do to improve any of the "conditions affecting your stroke" (see Definition for the list of things that are protected).

a - Actions That Are Not Allowed

Except in the limited ways allowed in Rules 8.1bc and d, you must not take any of these actions if they improve the conditions affecting your stroke:

  • Move, bend or break any growing or attached natural object, or immovable obstruction, integral object or boundary object, or tee-marker for the teeing area when playing a ball from that teeing area.
  • Move a loose impediment or movable obstruction into position (such as to build a stance).
  • Alter the surface of the ground.
  • Remove or press down sand or loose soil.
  • Remove dew, frost or water.

Penalty for Breach of Rule 8.1a: General Penalty.

b - Actions That Are Allowed

In preparing for or making a stroke, you may take any of these actions and there is no penalty even if doing so improves the conditions affecting your stroke:

  • Fairly search for your ball by taking reasonable actions to find and identify it.
  • Take reasonable actions to remove loose impediments and movable obstructions.
  • Take reasonable actions to mark the spot of a ball and to lift and replace your ball.
  • Ground your club lightly right in front of or right behind your ball (but you cannot do this in a bunker).
  • Firmly place your feet in taking a stance, including a reasonable amount of digging in with your feet in sand or loose soil.
  • Fairly take your stance by taking reasonable actions to get to your ball and take your stance. But when doing so you are not entitled to a normal stance or swing and you must use the least intrusive course of action to deal with the particular situation.
  • Make a stroke or the backswing for a stroke which is then made. But when your ball is in a bunker, touching the sand in the bunker in taking your backswing is not allowed.
  • On the putting green, remove sand and loose soil and repair damage.
  • Move a natural object to see if it is loose. But if the object is found to be growing or attached, it must stay attached and be returned as nearly as possible to its original position.

See Full Rules For information on permitted actions on the teeing area and in a bunker.

c - Avoiding Penalty by Restoring Conditions Improved in Breach of Rule 8.1a

There are limited instances when you may avoid the penalty by restoring the original conditions before making a stroke. The determination as to whether the improvement has been eliminated will be made by the Committee.

See Full Rules For more information on avoiding penalty by restoring improved conditions.

d - Restoring Conditions Worsened After Ball Came to Rest

If the conditions affecting your stroke are worsened by another player, an animal or an artificial object after your ball has come to rest, you have the ability to restore the original conditions as near as possible. However, you are not allowed to restore the conditions if they were worsened by you, a natural object or by natural forces.

See Full Rules For more information on restoring conditions worsened after your ball came to rest.