Obstructions are anything artificial or man-made except: 1. Objects defining out of bounds, such as
walls, fences, stakes and railings; 2. Any part of an immovable artificial object
that is out of bounds; and 3. Any construction declared by the Committee
to be an integral part of the course.
Obstructions can be either movable or immovable. They are movable obstructions if they can be moved without unreasonable effort, undue delay or causing damage.
Movable obstructions are covered in Rule 24-1 and can be removed from anywhere on the course, including bunkers and water hazards.
An obstruction is a movable obstruction if it may be moved without unreasonable effort, without unduly delaying play and without causing damage. Otherwise it is an immovable obstruction.
The following items are also movable obstructions: • An abandoned ball • A movable artificial object lying out of
bounds • A stone broken away from a retaining wall • A parked car if it can be readily moved • Stones in bunkers if declared by the
Committee to be movable obstructions.
If your ball does not lie in or on a moveable obstruction, the obstruction may be moved, If the ball moves as a direct result of the movement of the movable obstruction there is no penalty and the ball must be replaced. If you ball happens to come to rest in or on the movable obstruction, you may lift the ball and remove the obstruction. You must then dropped the ball (or place it if on the putting green) as near as possible to the spot directly under where the ball originally lay.
Movable obstructions are treated differently under the Rules from loose impediments, which are natural objects covered by Rule 23-1.
Immovable obstructions typically encountered on a course include artificially surfaced roads and cart paths, sprinkler heads, buildings, irrigation control boxes and stakes, fences and walls which don’t define the course boundaries. A Committee may declare a movable obstruction (such as a hazard or GUR stake) to be an immovable obstruction; so always check the Local Rules before removing such a stake.
A road or path to which any foreign material (including gravel or wood chips) has been applied is artificially surfaced and thus an obstruction (see Decision 24/9). However, many Committees declare such roads and paths to be integral parts of the course from which free relief is not available – see below.
Rule 24-2b advises that interference from an immovable obstruction occurs when it interferes with the lie of your ball, your stance or the area of your intended swing.
There is no relief under this Rule if your ball is in a water hazard or if the immovable obstruction is on your line of play. Apart from when the ball lies on the putting green, line of sight relief is restricted to the special cases outlined in Appendix I [ Temporary Immovable Obstructions (pages 131-134) and Immovable Obstructions Close to Putting Green (pages 130-131)]. In both cases, there must be a Local Rule in effect granting relief.
To take relief from an immovable obstruction, you must drop the ball within one club-length of the nearest point of relief. This is the nearest place to where the ball originally lay, which is not nearer the hole and where interference ceases to exist. If your ball is on the putting green, you must place it at the nearest point of relief. If it is in a bunker, you must drop it in the bunker or, as an additional option, you may take relief from the obstruction behind the bunker under penalty of one stroke.
Note that it is the nearest point, not the nicest point, which determines where you are entitled to drop the ball. Therefore, determine the nearest point of relief before you touch your ball in case it would be a better option to play the ball as it lies.
Temporary Immovable Obstructions
Temporary immovable obstructions ( TIO’s) are non-permanent artificial objects erected in conjunction with a competition; usually a professional tournament or an elite National
or State amateur championship. Examples of
TIO’s include tents, scoreboards, grandstands, television towers etc. The TIO Specimen Local Rule grants “line of sight” relief if the TIO intervenes between the ball and the hole in
addition to relief from physical interference. This is done because the obstruction would not normally be on the course if it were not for the tournament. Note: this form of relief is only available if the TIO Local Rule is in force.
Integral Parts of the Course
A Committee may declare a construction to be an “integral part of the course” if it feels that free relief would reward a poor
shot or alter the integrity of a hole. If the Committee does this, there is no free relief and you must either play the ball as it lies or declare it unplayable – under penalty of one stroke. The Road Hole at the Old Course
in St. Andrews is the most recognisable construction to be declared an integral part of a course. Giving free relief for a ball that comes to rest on the road would significantly alter the character of the hole.
Remember that obstructions are man-made objects except for immovable obstructions lying out of bounds or those defining out of bounds or declared integral parts of the course.