2019 Rule: Under Rules 12.2a and 12.2b, the player will be allowed to touch or move loose impediments in a bunker and will be generally allowed to touch the sand with a hand or club; but a limited prohibition continues so that the player must not:
Deliberately touch the sand in a bunker with a hand, club, rake or other object to test the condition of the sand to learn information for the stroke, or touch the sand in a bunker with a club in making a practice swing, in grounding the club right in front of or behind the ball, or in making the backswing for a stroke.
Reasons for Change:
The challenge of playing from a bunker is the need to play out of the sand, not to play with leaves, stones or other loose impediments left in place in the bunker.
The current approach has created confusion by stating a total prohibition on touching the sand with a hand or club and then recognizing many exceptions.
The revised Rule will simplify this by prohibiting only those acts where there is a purpose for doing so under the Rules.