We all remember when Patrick Reed had an embedded ball at the beginning of the year. This is usually a very straight forward relief procedure. But a few weeks ago, Ben Evans, on the European Tour had an embedded ball in the face of a bunker and he had to call a referee for help.
His ball was not touching the sand. In that case, the ball is not in the bunker. A player does not get a free relief from a ball that would be embedded in a bunker. Because the ball was embedded in the general area, he was allowed to take a free relief. He must drop a ball inside one club length from the reference point that is immediately behind the position of the ball
When the new rules came in effect in 2019, the governing bodies came with a clarification to say that: If a ball is embedded in the general area but neither the reference point nor any part of the course within one club-length of the reference point is in the general area, the player is not allowed to take free relief.
When we are in from of a bunker with a very high lip, and the ball is embedded at the very base of the lip, wall or face, the player won’t have a free relief because it would not be possible to find ground in the general area situated less than one club-length. The bunker lip was very short.
A Committee may put in effect a local rule giving free relief for an embedded ball only if the ball is lying in the short grass (fairway) and not in the rough. If that would have been the case, Ben Evans would not have been granted a free relief.