It seems slow play has always been an issue in golf but how directly does it affect us amateurs? Do you find the game less enjoyable and more annoying?
The Rule for slow play is Rule 6-7 and states:
Undue Delay; Slow Play: The player must play without undue delay and in accordance with any pace of play guidelines that the Committee may establish. Between completion of a hole and playing from the next teeing ground, the player must not unduly delay play.
On the PGA Tour for example, a player has 40 seconds to hit a shot (with an additional 20 seconds) for differing circumstances – weather, etc.
First a player is informed he is “out of position” and placed on the clock. Then a player receives a warning. If they then are issued a second “bad time” they are issued a 1-stroke penalty and $5,000 fine. If he records a third “bad time” it’s a 2-stroke penalty and $10,000 fine.
But is playing slow golf really as big an issue on the PGA as they make it or is it more an issue for the amateur players and golfing public at large?
The pros know how to play golf – that’s why they’re pros. Are some more deliberate than others – sure. But there’s also lot more at stake at the professional level. Missed puts can results in thousands or hundreds of thousands of lost income, possible exemptions, sponsors and more.
You could smoke a whole cigarette waiting for Hogan to take the putter back – Sam Snead
For me, I can definitely understand deliberateness. But in the amateur ranks it seems to be a bit different.
I play a decent amount of golf and slow play is alive and well out here in the public realm. But I’m not sure it’s one thing and one thing only.
I have a few observations on this. The most prevalent (to me anyway) is that people just don’t play “ready golf.” That means they’re over talking with their buddies or meandering around or realizing they grabbed the wrong club – just really dumb stuff.
I mean you should be just about ready to hit just after your partner hits. You know where you are in turn – so get ready to hit!
Another is amateurs who think they’re better than they are. Studying putts from every angle, waiting for players to leave the green on par 5’s – thinking they’re going to get there in 2, the yardage book guy – studying yardage like they’re Mike “Fluff” Cowan – I mean – come on!
Almost all this is directly attributed to television. We all want to play like the pros and we watch the most golf on the tube so that’s what we tend to replicate. But do we really need to read the green for 3 minutes?
There’s certainly not a lot of monitoring of this. I have never heard one mention of “ready golf” from any course starter (or even anyone in the clubhouse). To me, this would be a good beginning. Plant the seed before the round starts. Get players acclimated – at least to the idea of “ready golf” so it’s in their consciousness.
Also, what about some little laminated cards or even half sheets of paper with a few tips on speeding up play. Things one can do *specifically* to speed up their own play. Honestly, a lot of folks just don’t know but, again, it would be a way to begin to introduce the concept to players less familiar it.
What do you think? Would love to hear your comments on this.
I receive a lot of golf equipment, accessories and apparel throughout the year but honestly one of my favorite things to receive in a nice, new pair of golf socks.
Yup, golf socks. Nothing like a nice, fresh, quality pair of golf socks. The ones I just received are by Swiftwick and I tested a number of them.
Remember when a sock was a sock? Not anymore. Swiftwick puts a lot of technology into their socks for all types of athletes (and non-athletes) including, of course, golfers.
My favorite was, The PURSUIT™. It’s such a comfortable, plush sock. It’s made from 21 gauge American Merino Wool.
The site says this:
The PURSUIT comes fused with the natural and thermal properties of super fine, 36 micron Merino Wool sourced from farmers right here in America AND is the only 200-needle compression wool sock on the market.
They just didn’t think about the basics of a sock they thought about EVERYTHING, like:
No seams – all one construction, arch support, impact padding, full-cushioned foot bead, high density weave (for “no-bunch freedom” of movement), compression cuff (so it STAYS on the foot) and more.
The other ones I received were the ASPIRE™ and the VIBE™. The ASPIRE are true compression socks. They fit like a glove and are like another layer of skin. I’m not quite used to these yet but find I’m wearing them more often.
These are thinner, lighter socks. They’re made with US manufactured T-66 Nylon (around a core Spandax) throughout the sock. Their Managed Compression™ prevents bunching and hot spots by supporting all 3 arches in the foot. Nice!
Here’s the intro for the VIBE:
Unique in the Swiftwick family, the VIBE line is a little more plush, and a lot more colorful. Using a half height terry loop throughout the footbed, the VIBE offers a highly consistent, thicker feeling with linked toe construction and slightly less compression. To carry the color, it’s flat knit, super thin upper is smooth and snug.
Honestly, you can get a little overwhelmed at the site. There’s so much information. My recommendation is to start with the “Sport” tab in the left nav, that way you can start by targeting your sport and move from there.
Or, you can get and test a few different product lines, like I did. They even have a SockClub of the month! Now that’s something that would be fun to receive every month!
They have a great selection of colors (including neon ones) styles and heights, materials (natural, synthetic) and, of course, sizes.
Swiftwick produces a high quality, innovative socks that will make your feet sing and most importantly, take care of those valuable appendages while enjoying the sports and activities you love.
There site is here: Swiftwick
In the past, players could back believe in themselves with a legal wager at the Open but this year have been asked to sign a waiver to avoid betting on themselves.
Although sports betting has limited legality here in the U.S., betting parlors abound in the UK ( I read somewhere there are actually 82 betting shops in one London borough!) with a number near Royal Liverpool itself.
With so much money on the line (last years purse was close to $9M) I guess you can see the temptation for these wealthy players to make a wager or two.
Interestingly, this does not apply to caddies so what stops a caddie from putting down $110K from his boss? Who monitoring that?
Many players said it is the first time they’ve been approached to sign the waiver, but R&A’s executive director of championships Johnnie-Cole Hamilton said it has been in place since the 2011 Open Championship.
“I was shocked when they handed me the sheet to sign,” said one golfer, who wanted to remain anonymous.
Added Royal and Ancient CEO Peter Dawson:
I can say that this whole business of keeping sport clean in terms of betting is very high on the IOC’s agenda at the moment, and something that we’re following very closely because it’s just a killer to sport to think that any outcomes might have been predetermined. And I really don’t think that’s applying in golf. But we have to be vigilant.
According to an ESPN report, one player representative, who chose to remain anonymous said:
There’s probably … at least 30 guys in violation [of the no-bet waiver] already, and that number will be bigger by Thursday.
Rory McIlroy is 12/1 with Betdaq to win the Claret Jug and currently the favorite to win. Others include Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott and Justin Rose at 14/1 while Tiger lurks a bit back at 20/1.
Tiger Woods will be an interesting story this year (as he always is!) playing in his first major of the year. We just wrote a piece on him called, Woods Stumbles in Return to Action but his sheer presence at the Open is creating major buzz, which is good for fans, sponsors and the game itself. It’s great to have him back on the scene.
Each betting establishment has it’s own flavor and variation of odds. Not only can you pick a player to win outright but I’ve seen things like “Tiger Woods to make/miss cut,” “Leader after Round 1” and “Mythical 2 Balls” where they take players and create a 2-ball pairing like with Phil Mickleson and Justin Rose.
I guess there’s really no limit to the creativity these betting parlors can produce. The name of the game in the end is getting people to play and place a bet.
It’s fascinating for me to look at these odds as they are purely of entertainment value for me only. However, it’s only guessing when it comes to betting as we all know.
This month’s “Quick 9″ interview is with Bubba Watson’s Golf Fitness instructor, Andrew Fischer.
Andrew Fischer is a Golf Fitness instructor on the PGA Tour, most notably for 2-time Master’s Champion, Bubba Watson.
Fish, as he is known on the tour, designs golf specific workouts for professional golfers based on their performance goals and personal needs.
He has worked with Bryce Molder, Jeff Overton, Chris Stroud, Ryan Moore, Bubba Watson and other PGA Tour pros.
Fish has helped dozens of golfers, all at different skills levels, reach their peak performance through physical conditioning and golf instruction.
His philosophy of function al training combined with golf-specific motor learning drills has elevated hime to the forefront of the Golf Fitness World.
Here we go. Let’s learn a bit more from Andrew himself.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself and your background
My name is Fish, and I’m a movement specialist for PGA Tour golfers, most notably, Bubba Watson. I graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Exercise Science and have spent years studying and practicing soft tissue rehabilitation.
2. How did you first get started working with Bubba Watson?
I met Bubba early in his career, when fitness was the furthest thing from his mind. At the time I was working with Ryan Moore on movement functioning, strength and conditioning.
Shortly after our introduction Bubba made me an offer I couldn’t refuse and I took the opportunity.
3. What’s it like working with Bubba?
Working with Bubba is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.
He has more fun than any person I’ve ever encountered. He is fun loving and goofy. Basically he is a big kid.
Bubba is also the most “professionally disciplined” person I’ve ever met, with the exception of Tiger Woods.
4. Give us a brief overview of what a training schedule is like with Bubba
I have Bubba in the gym 6 days a week regardless if he is competing or not. Now, we aren’t lifting weights everyday however. One day is dedicated entirely to cardio. Another day to mobility and therapeutic work, next day to corrective exercises, then strength and stability training, and power and balance is incorporated within each session.
Bubba also has some type of therapeutic modality treatment after each tournament round. His body is his business. It’s his company. It’s how he makes money. It must be treated as such. That goes for any golfer regardless of skill level.
5. Since working with Bubba on golf fitness he has had some amazing success. How do you measure the effectiveness of your work together?
In golf, much like in life, success boils down to one key factor- “Confidence.”
To be more confident or effective, a competitive athlete must learn to run faster, lift more, or change their physique. These physical alterations are Measurable, clear, and tangible and therefore they work. Physical results can be measured and managed.
Mental results can not be. So to measure the effectiveness of our partnership, we focus on precision of changing the physical reality to indirectly effect the internal mental confidence.
6. I often get the comment, “There are just so many exercises and programs out there I have no idea where to start” How do you react to that comment?
In a sea of propaganda and sales marketing there is an over saturation of golf tips. Whether instructional or exercise based, it’s intimidating.
But like in any subject, getting back to the basics, must be a priority. Otherwise, you will become addicted to the “search of getting better” rather than actual improvement.
I implore my students to start with the basics and stick with the basics. Fitness is quite simple. Motivation is the hard part.
When my clients are confused about how to start, I encourage them to just start. Nike has the “just do it” slogan for a reason. Action is more important than preparation.
Not to discredit preparation. In golf, a pre-shot routine is very important, but it’s the execution of the shot that ultimately matters the most.
7. What are a couple “staple” exercises that can help one increase their power off the tee?
I receive this question most frequently. There’s no real secret to golf swing power. Think Glutes and Abs.
Any exercise that is focusing on these muscle groups is going to be advantageous to your power output. (Lunges, Wall Squats, Split Squats, Bird/Dogs, One-legged Squats, Exercise Ball Ab Rollouts, Plank Holds, etc……)
8. What excites you most about the relationship of biomechanics and golf?
It’s the future of Golf. Golf training and Golf instruction.
We are able to isolate deficiencies in the overall foundation of the golfer. Test their function, and then move to their skill.
Through biomechanical movement screens, specialists can pin point poor body mechanics, physical limitations, and proper movement sequencing.
Movement Experts discover body deficiencies to correct swing deficiencies. It’s an exciting time to be in the Golf Fitness field.
9. Tell us a bit about your cool, new app, “FishFit” and how can we get it?
FishFit focuses on all aspects of Golf Fitness. Warm-up, Instructional Drills, Golf Fitness Exercises, and Injury Prevention.
It’s a simple slogan, “Fix the body, to fix the swing.”
Check it out for yourself. There’s a few free sample videos for your education.
Here’s a nice piece “mini-film” on Andrew Fischer
Top photograph credit: Jonathan Rojas
I’m going to start a series on golf visualizations. I find these immensely helpful in my own game and hope they will be helpful to you, too.
The great thing about visualizations is that they can be as creative and imaginative as you like. Creating different ways to imagine or think about a specific golf position or dynamic can be a immensely powerful way to producing a solid, repeatable, relaxed golf swing.
I’ve often felt, when playing my best golf, that I had a very rooted, grounded feeling with my legs and feet. That the leverage of the ground is producing the power.
As we know, a good, solid golf swing is initiated by the lower body. The feet grip the earth, the weight begins to shift forward, your shoulders, arms and hands remain soft – allowing them to drop into the “slot”, then your hips begin to be activated, your shoulders and arms following with a nice powerful, inside-to-out “sling” through the ball. All produced from leverage via ground force dynamics.
Visualization: “Feel” like your feet are like an Eagle’s talons. You want to feel as if your feet has claws and that they are literally sinking and gripping the earth by digging in and turning the claws inward.
Visualization 2: This is the same feeling you get when you are wearing a treaded show (like Merrells hiking shoe) and try to turn (as if you are making a golf swing) but keeping your feet firmly on a rug. You immediately feel the resistance of the tread of the shoe getting intertwined with the rug fibers creating “resistance.”
I actually did a post on this called, Braced Right Knee in the Golf Swing.
In my experience this is something that can developed through focused training and practice.
Practice: Via Qigong Training. Qigong is an ancient practice (not unlike Tai-Chi) that promotes balance, strength, calmness and cultivation of Qi – or “life energy”
Think of this as another little “experiment” Just try it out. Keep an open mind. Have a bit of fun with trying something new. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
What we’re going to practice is called a “Standing Meditation” or “Standing Post”. This is the single most important and widely practiced form of Qigong.
This is a LOT tougher than it looks initially. You might wobble, shake, think it’s stupid to be doing it or a thousand other distractions will go through your mind. Let them happen. Rise above them.
Try it for 2-3 minutes the first week, 5 minutes the following week, 10 the next etc. Try to eventually get up to 15-20 minutes. Watch the video below for more details on the specific posture, positions, etc.
What this does is build tremendous strength in your legs and core, allows you to breathe properly (from the belly), promotes relaxation, accurate body awareness, proper alignment, tranquility and, of course, cultivation of Qi.
As you begin to practice this you want to feel your weight “sinking” into the ground. This will really help to relax your arms and in particularly your shoulders which, for many, have chronic tension. Get the breathe to drop from your chest to your belly. For now, just be aware of those.
You’ll soon have legs of steel and better body integration and awareness of the ground and how to use it for more relaxed power in your golf swing.
Following an opening round 74, Woods couldn’t claw it back on the second day and finished with 75 to fall four shots behind the cut with a seven-over 149. The American had made the cut in his last 26 tournaments dating back to 2012, but Tiger couldn’t continue that streak in his first appearance for three months.
Tiger undertook a microdiscectomy on March 31 of this year (2014) to repair a herniated disc and relieve pressure on a nerve. Not just a minor tweak, folks but Dr. Andrew Hecht, who is the chief of spine surgery at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, indicated that 90 percent of elite athletes return to the exact same level they were at before the surgery.
“Anyone that’s had any kind of nerve impingement, it’s no joke,” he said. “That part was relieved as soon as I got out of the surgery. That nerve impingement, that pain that I was feeling going down my leg, was gone. I’ve heard numerous people talk about it, and I’ve had people come up to me and say they had the same procedure and got their life back and that’s basically how I felt.”
In a season that has been interrupted by a back injury that kept him out of the Masters and the U.S. Open, Woods had made his return to action at the Congressional Country Club in a bid to get some course time ahead of this month’s Open Championship at Hoylake.
While the former world number one didn’t make it through until the weekend despite being backed by a number of Betfair fans, Woods admitted he felt positive after returning to competitive action.
“All little things I know I can fix. As I said, it’s very encouraging,” said the 38-year old.
With 14 majors to his name, Woods is still hunting Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major titles and this month’s Open will give the American the chance to edge closer to his compatriot’s record.
Woods won when the Open was last at Royal Liverpool in 2006, but the three-time Open winner is now preparing to tee off at the year’s third major without playing any more tournaments before heading across the Atlantic.
Woods’ place at the top of the world rankings came to an end earlier this summer when Australia’s Adam Scott reached number one in the world for the first time in his career. While Tiger will no doubt be looking to reclaim his place at the top of the rankings, perhaps more pressing for the American will be trying to end a major drought that stretches back since the 2008 U.S. Open.
Despite his continued struggles at the majors, Woods will head into the Open alongside Rory McIlroy as the pre-tournament Betfair favourite. Current world number one Adam Scott finds himself in the chasing pack alongside Henrik Stenson, recent US Open champ, Martin Kaymer and Justin Rose.
Woods stated he intended to take his children on a “promised” 2-week summer vacation and therefore will not be playing in any additional events prior to teeing it up at the Open Championship.
The Open Championship is scheduled for July 13-20 at Royal Liverpool Golf Club at Hoylake, in the UK.
Photo credits: top picture courtesy of the DenverPost
bottom picture courtesy of golfclubatlas.com
I just received some very cool Lyle & Scott golf apparel in the mail the other day. It’s always exciting getting golf stuff, especially Lyle & Scott.
Lyle & Scott, granted, is not as well known here in the US as it is in the UK but hopefully that is changing.
For one, it’s been around forever, being established in 1874 by William Lyle and Walter Scott who founded a knitwear company in Hawick, a small town hidden in the Scottish Borders.
In the 60s Lyle & Scott launched a golf apparel line, a move that coincided with the design of the now iconic Golden Eagle logo/brand.
The Eagle represents not only the brands reputation for reliability and quality but is also, of course, represents one of best played holes in golf – a score of 2 under par.
Over the years, many celebrities, entertainers and, of course, legendary PGA Pros have donned the Golden Eagle.
These include Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Sean Connery and golfers Tony Jacklin, Gary Player, Ian Baker-Finch, Lee Westwood and, of course, Greg Norman, wearing the Golden Eagle when he won the 1986 Open Championship at Turnberry.
One item in particular that I really like is the Club Tipped Polo Golf Shirt. Talk about a stylish polo and I just love the color scheme. You can see pro golfer, Andy Lesenski, wearing it below.
Of course, there are many color combinations to choose from. Here’s just a little blurb about it from their site:
A little sportier than the plain option, our Lyle and Scott Club tipped polo shirt has a few extra touches that lends it that tournament-ready feel.
Cut in our regular fit from cotton piqué, the all-important details include a three-button placket, button down collar, tipped collar and cuffs, “Lyle & Scott” embroidery on the back neck and the Green Eagle on the left chest.
Of all things, I also loved the Lyle & Scott golf socks. I’m just a sucker for nice, comfy, stylish socks and you get all that in with their Club Ankle Sock.
Here’s a brief description:
Cushioning detail around the arch and ankle of our Lyle and Scott ankle socks ensures they feel comfortable and supportive. The left sock is adorned with the famous Club Green Eagle. 85% Cotton 13% Nylon 2% Elastane.
I’ve got my eye on a number of other Lyle & Scott products including a very sweet-looking, classic Argyle V-neck sweater and a pair of these very cool, Chock blue, Club Chinos.
For the materials and craftsmanship Lyle & Scott produces, I really think the prices are very good.
The Lyle & Scott Golf collection consists of classic golf polo shirts, jumpers and jackets, as well as designer golf trousers, chinos and socks.
Finally, don’t think you women will be left out in the cold. Here’s Lyle & Scott’s Women’s Line.
If you’re like me and have limited golf conditioning time you might have ignored your hip abductor muscles. If you have, you might be making a big mistake. This blurb was taken from an article, “Golf’s Muscle Man,” in Golf Digest by Max Alder.
The report comes from Dr. Scott Lepart, who is Director of the Neuromuscular Research Lab at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Center for Sports Medicine and also operates two human-performance and injury-prevention labs for the U.S. Army and U.S. Navel Special Operations.
From the article:
Says Lephart, “Identifying and strengthening specific muscles not only improves performance, it pre-empts injury”
After plowing through data collected from 700 golfers, including 35 PGA Tour pros, the time had come to reap the discoveries.
As expected, strength and flexibility of the shoulders and torso were important in golf, but Lephart also identified a specific pair of muscles, the hip abductors, which engage when you move your legs apart, as a key discriminator in power.
Immediately before impact, stress equal to 2 to 3 times the golfer’s body weight is placed on the hips. On average, Lepahart found elite players to be 30 percent stronger in the hip abductors.
“The balance and trunk stability provided by the hips is often overlooked in golf,” says Lephart. “Golfers with weak hips are predisposed to commit swing errors that hinder their game game and make them prone to injury over time.”
One of the best is the Side-lying Hip Abduction. Perform the exercise as follows:
Lie down in a left side-lying position. Make sure your hips are “stacked” (right hip directly over the left hip) and that your body is in a straight line.
Placing your top hand on the floor in front of you can help ensure that you are not leaning forwards.
Take 1 second to lift the top leg up (breathing out), 2 seconds to hold it in top position (keep breathing out) and then 3 seconds to slowly return it to start position (slowly breathing in).
I recommend the heel to remain the same height as the toes throughout.
Variations include (while lying on side) bringing top knee to chest and extending it. This not only work the abductors but hits the all-important glutes as well.
Instead of having your top leg straight bend your knee to 90 degrees and do short bursts or “pumps” with that top leg until fatigue.
When these become too easy just add an ankle weight or resistance bands for further resistance.
Maybe it’s time to start incorporating some hip flexibility/strength conditioning exercises into your routine.
If it does make a difference for you, please let me know by commenting.
Equipment mentioned above:
Here we go again, I’m on a quest for a new driver. Although I’ve done this many times before it always seems like a challenging experience (for me anyway).
I’ve written about this a number of times in posts like, The Quest for a New Driver and The Quest for a New Driver (Continued) so it’s something I have *some* familiarity with but in some ways it truly is like looking for that mystical “pot of gold” at the end of the rainbow (Well, maybe it’s there, I’m just not seeing it)
We’ve even written about Why You Shouldn’t Buy A New Driver. There might be a few nuggets in there for you to ponder as well as you wade through your own buying experience.
I have bought off the shelf, I’ve custom built my own driver, I’ve been custom-fit at one of the top fitting centers in the Northeast and have also bought (sight unseen) online – that covers pretty much the gamut, I think.
By the way, a great place to buy a driver (or any other club for that matter) online is at GolfOnline. Please check ‘em out.
Like a lot of people, I want to get a good deal and find a driver that’s pleasing to my eye, that feels good and can hit reasonably well.
And, of course, I want more distance. I’m over 50 now and every yard helps so what not try to maximize it with the one club that will get you that distance?
Here’s where I’m at currently: After going through an arduous custom-fitting for a New Nike VRS a few years ago I could not (and still cannot) hit that damn club to save my life. That a nice $300 lesson, right to the chin.
I was really hitting that club great at the testing center but after they took all the specs and got it custom-built in the Nike factory in Oregon what I got in the mail was clearly NOT what I was hitting that day I was being tested.
Something got lost in translation. It was extremely frustrating, Nobody wants to take the blame and well, “like it or lump it, it’s yours and sorry.”
So after that experience, I’ve become a little uneasy about someone taking my specs and trying to translate them. I know a lot of folks who have had no issues with this but hit has now happened to me TWICE.
Again, totally from my own experience (and what I’m personally going to do) is either head to a local demo day and hit a ton of clubs. Work with the club reps there to help you tweak things on the spot and buy that driver you hit well then and there. In other words buy the one that you have swung and are pleased with.
Or, you can get a driver that has some serious built-in flexibility, like a TaylorMade R1 for instance. It can be adjusted for proper loft, face angle (open, closed, medium-open, N/square, etc.), moveable weights and more.
This way you can tinker away until you find the settings that best work for you. It make take a bit of time but it sure is better than buying something like a Rocketballz (just using TaylorMade as an example) which has a lot less “tweak-ability” (I think I just invented a word!)
For the record, I just bought a TaylorMade R1. I was thinking of getting the SLDR but my budget just didn’t allow for it. That’s fine, you don’t always need the shiny new object.
Please let me know your thoughts on this post. Would love to hear others “buying a driver” experiences as well.
With the recent re-design of Pinehurst No. 2 it becomes a little unclear as to what’s deemed a bunker and what is a waste area. How will this vet out during play?
Two of the most romantic of golf course designers, the team of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw re-designed Pinehurst #2 by replacing 26 acres of rough with sandy, hardpan waste areas filled with pine needles and hand-planted wiregrass.
They used aerial photos of the original Donald Ross design as their guide, creating a new kind of windswept, “natural” look, a more strategic course, a widening of the fairways to create a kind of “old-world” golfing experience for this year’s US Open.
Of course, the signature of Pinehurst No. 2, those untouched inverted saucer greens, are as perplexing, maddening and dangerous as ever. But much more has been brought into question in this year’s United States Open Championship.
One of the “gray” areas still appears to be, “What exactly is a bunker and what constitutes a waste area?”
A bunker, according to the rules is:
A hazard consisting of a prepared area of ground, often a hollow, from which turf or soil has been removed and replaced with sand or the like.
Grass-covered ground bordering or within a bunker, including a stacked turf-face (whether grass-covered or earthen), is not part of the bunker. A wall or lip of the bunker not covered with grass is part of the bunker.
The margin of a bunker extends vertically downward, but not upward. A ball is in a bunker when it lies in or any part of it touches the bunker.
Of course, grounding your club in a hazard is a penalty of 2 strokes. Here’s the complete definition:
Grounding the Club in a Hazard (Rule 13-4)
Grounding the club in a hazard is not allowed. Anyone who does it must assess themselves (or have assessed) a 2-stroke penalty (or loss of hole in match play).
Now it get’s a bit foggy when discussing “waste areas” as the rules of golf do not define such areas. Therefore, you can ground your club and/or remove loose impediments (but not so as to improve the lie of the ball)
According to USGA Executive Director, Mike Davis, a plan was “in place” to have a line of delineation between the two.
However, as of a few days before the tournament, players I see on TV seem still confused as to what is a bunker, what is a waste area, etc. and what (if any) is the official call on this.
The issue is, “Could a waste area be deemed a bunker and how would you know?” This is exactly was caused Dustin Johnson to potentially lose the 2010 PGA Championship. He never considered the area he was in to be a bunker so he grounded his club and was assessed a 2-stroke penalty, keeping him out of a playoff.
I’d be curious to know what kind of instruction sheets the players receive and how this is explained. Is a bunker simply a prepared area that is surrounded by 360 degrees of grass? Will they define it differently. We’ll see.