You pick up rocks, wipe away dew, and shoo away bugs. Are all of those actions legal?
Below we define the difference between
impediments and obstructions, and explain where you get relief, and where you don't.
- Impediments are natural
objects such as stones, leaves, branches, and insects.
- Obstructions are anything artificial, including
the artificial surfaces and sides of roads and paths (with the exception of objects that are out of bounds or define
the out of bounds, like a fence).
Both impediments and obstructions can be broken into those that
can be moved (i.e. loose impediments and moveable obstructions) and those that cannot. All four categories are
handled separately in golf - we discuss Impediments below.
Impediments are considered
"Loose" if they are not fixed or growing, are not solidly embedded and do not adhere to the ball. Dead fallen
branches are considered Loose Impediments, unless they are still attached to the plant. Ants and other bugs are
considered Loose Impediments. Sand and loose soil are loose impediments only on the green. Compacted soil
(like aeration plugs)
are loose impediments. Dew and frost are not
loose impediments (which
have important implications). For those up north, snow and natural ice can be considered
either as loose impediments or as casual water.
Loose impediments can be removed without penalty unless the impediment and the ball lie in the
same hazard (sand, water, or other)
or the ball is in motion. The ball must not move when you remove a loose impediment.
If you remove an impediment that is not loose, or move a loose impediment in a hazard, or if your ball moves while you
are removing a loose impediment, the result is a two stroke penalty (or loss of hole in match play).
To be continued...