Rule of the Month: Loose Impediments and Movable Obstructions
December 1, 2021
Loose impediments and movable obstructions are two categories of items that the Rules do not consider part of the challenge of playing the game, and therefore they can be moved. Loose impediments are unattached natural objects such as sticks, leaves, twigs, and blades of grass so long as they are not fixed or growing, solidly embedded in the ground, or sticking to the ball. Movable obstructions are artificial objects that can be moved with reasonable effort such as a water bottle, scorecard, broken tee, trash can, bench, etc. Click here to learn more about movable obstructions.
Loose impediments and movable obstructions can be moved anywhere on the golf course, including in bunkers and penalty areas, even when your ball also lies in the bunker or penalty area. If your ball moves when moving a movable obstruction, there is not penalty and you simply replace the ball. However, you will need to be careful when moving loose impediments because if that causes your ball to move, you will get a one-stroke penalty and must replace your ball. The only time a penalty does not apply is if your ball lay on the putting green when moving a loose impediment caused it to move.