Rules Explained: Searching for your ball 12-1
A player may touch, or bend long grass, bushes, heathers etc but only to the extent necessary to see/identify the ball. If the ball moves then she incurs a one-stroke penalty – with four exceptions.
1) If a player’s ball lies anywhere on the course and it is believed to be covered by sand and the sand needs to be touched or moved and during the search the ball is moved there is no penalty.
2) When searching in a hazard which necessitates moving loose impediments and the ball moves then there is a shot penalty but if the ball moves when the loose impediments are being replaced (as they need to be) there is no penalty.
3) When searching for a ball in a water hazard and the player is probing with a club and the ball moves there is no penalty.
4) If a ball lying on abnormal ground conditions or an obstruction is accidentally moved during a search there is no penalty.