USGA Rule 13-4. Ball in Hazard; Prohibited Actions
Except as provided in the rules, before making a stroke at the ball that is in a hazard (whether bunker or water hazard) or that, having been lifted from a hazard, may be dropped or placed in the hazard, the player must not:
a. Test the condition of the hazard or any similar hazard;
b. Touch the ground in the hazard or water in the water hazard with his hand or club, or;
c. Touch or move a loose impediment lying in or touching the hazard.
Why is this rule stupid? Well just ask Stewart Cink who on Saturday was automatically disqualified from the Zurich Classic because of something he did the day before. That something was violate rule 13-4 sub-section a.
Cink hit his drive on the 16th hole just short of a bunker during his second round on Friday and when he addressed the ball, his stance dictated that his front foot be in the bunker. Cink would then hit his ball about 180 yards into a different bunker on the 16th. Cink's caddie then raked the bunker in which Cink had stood and they went on the rest of the round with no problems and Cink signed his scorecard upon completing the round.
Here's the problem. Cink did not assess himself the two stroke penalty for testing the condition of the hazard (the sand trap) and because of this, he had signed an incorrect scorecard. This was brought to his attention by Zach Johnson mid-way through his third round and Cink did the honorable thing and notified PGA officials and was then sent home.
What an incredibly stupid rule. The PGA has taken more steps then ever this year to speed up play and they still have this rule in the books. According to the rule, Cink and his caddie were supposed to trek 180 yards down the hole only to hit the shot, have the caddie rake that bunker and then go back to the first bunker and then rake that one.
Does this make any sense to any of you? Me neither.
Furthermore, had Cink not called himself out on it, no one would have caught him. It would be as if it never happened. That's the other part that makes this rule stupid because Cink could have got away with doing something he didn't know he was doing and apparently none of the officials knew he was doing anything wrong either otherwise it would have been taken care of right then and there. It's one thing for a player to be unsure of a rule but it's a problem when an official doesn't have the wherewithal to make a ruling as the play is happening.
USGA rule 13-4, you are the stupid rule of the week.