More common in the winter when the ground is a bit softer. It is possible for a ball to embed (plug) in a steep soil or stacked turf face above a bunker. Depending on how you proceed you may be able to leave yourself a much easier shot than if you took relief without thinking.
Firstly – do check that there isn’t a local rule in place limiting embedded ball relief to areas mown to fairway height or less, or not allowing free relief from soil or stacked turf faces above bunkers.
Secondly – if any part of your ball is touching the sand, then your ball is in the Bunker and not in the General Area, so embedded ball relief is not allowed.
When embedded ball relief is allowed, your reference point is immediately behind the ball and you Relief Area is:
- within 1 club length of the Reference Point, and
- not nearer the hole than the Reference Point, and
- in the General Area
If there is nowhere that satisfies all these conditions your only options are to play the ball as it lies or take Unplayable Ball Relief under penalty of 1 stroke. (Most likely back-on-the-line and you can choose to drop in the bunker or further back).
It may be that your entire relief area is on the very steep face of the bunker – even if the ball has no chance of coming to rest when dropped on this face you must drop it into the Relief Area and then re-drop it before trying to place the ball where it first contacted the course on the re-drop. If the ball will not come to rest on this point you must then find the nearest position to this point which is:
- in the General Area, and
- not nearer the hole, and
- where the ball will stay at rest
This point may be some way away and is likely to be on the very edge of the bunker or the steep bunker face. For this reason you need to think carefully about where you attempt your drops into your first relief area as this may determine where you will need to place your ball – have a look at the diagram below showing a plan view of a bunker with a steep soil face.
The brown area is a steep turf face down into the sand, so a left handed player will find it easier to play if they redrop at the right hand extremity of their relief area (A), while a right handed player would be better using the left hand extremity (B).