Obstructions – Movable and Immovable

One of the greatest aspects of playing golf, is that it allows you to get out in nature.  And even though we are playing on wonderfully manicured pieces of property (most of the time), we occasionally find objects that just get in our way.  Sometimes they get in the line of the golf balls flight to the hole, while at other times they get in the way of your swing.

According to Rule 24-1 of the USGA’s Rules of Golf covering movable obstructions, a player may take relief, without penalty, from a movable obstruction as follows:

a. If the ball does not lie in or on the obstruction, the obstruction may be removed.  If the ball moves, it must be replaced, and there is no penalty, provided that the movement of the ball is directly attributable to the removal of the obstruction.

b. If the ball lies in or on the obstruction, the ball may be lifted and the obstruction removed.  The ball must through the green or in a hazard be dropped, or on the putting green be placed, as near as possible to the spot directly under the place where the ball lay in or on the obstruction, but not nearer the hole.

Then according to Rule 24-2 of the Rules of Golf which covers immovable obstructions:

Interference by an immovable obstruction occurs when a ball lies in or on the obstruction, or when the obstruction interferes with the player’s stance of the area of his intended swing.  If the player’s ball lies on the putting green, interference also occurs if an immovable obstruction on the putting green intervenes on his line of putt.  Otherwise, intervention on the line of play is not, of itself, interference under this Rule.


Okay, now lets try to clarify and simplify this a bit.  Obstructions are artificial, or man made, objects that you come into contact with on the golf course.  A sample list of such items would be: bunker rakes, other players’ golf clubs, stakes (except out of bounds), signs and ropes, bottles and cans, plastic bags, abandoned balls, cables.  The list is endless of what could be considered as an obstruction, but being able to recognize these items and knowing how to take the proper relief will save you shots on the golf course.