There is a change in Rule 12 -1 (Searching For And Identifying Ball) that now allows a player to search for a ball that is covered by sand, anywhere on the course, by moving the sand without being penalized should the ball be moved during the search. This is consistent with the Rule in the past that has allowed the player to search for his ball in a bunker by moving sand if necessary. If the ball moves during the search, the player can replace the ball by recreating the lie, and there is no penalty.
Also, if you believe your ball is covered by loose impediments in either a bunker or water hazard, so that you cannot identify it, you may without penalty move the loose impediments to find the ball and identify it. However, if the ball moves during the removal of the loose impediments, you will be penalized one stroke under Rule 18 – 2a (Ball at Rest Moved by Player, Partner, Caddie or Equipment) and the ball must be replaced. There is no penalty if the ball moves during the replacement of the loose impediments.
Michigan PGA Rules Official
Staff Writer for Mike Fay Golf