Rules Corner Blog

Immovable Obstructions Near Putting Greens

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By Rob Ockenfuss, USGA

Many of the greens at Sebonack Golf Club are surrounded by closely mown areas, which are defined by the Rules as any area of the course cut to fairway height or less – see Rule 25-2. As a result of this design feature, many players often choose to putt instead of chipping or pitching.

As at many courses, the sprinkler heads at Sebonack are located quite close to the putting greens. However, these immovable obstructions are more evident this week because of the closely mown areas.

Except when the ball lies on the putting green and an immovable obstruction interferes with the player’s line of putt, the Rules of Golf do not normally provide relief if an immovable obstruction interferes with the player’s line of play – see Rule 24-2a.

However, a Local Rule may be introduced that provides relief from immovable obstructions near the putting green – see Appendix I; Part B; Item 6. Such a Local Rule is recommended when immovable obstructions near the putting green may interfere with the proper playing of the game.

In part, the following is the language of the Local Rule adopted for the 2013 U.S. Women’s Open:

If a ball lies through the green and an immovable obstruction on or within two club-lengths of the putting green and within two club-lengths of the ball intervenes on the line of play between the ball and the hole, the player may take relief as follows:

The ball must be lifted and dropped at the nearest point to where the ball lay that (a) is not nearer the hole, (b) avoids intervention and (c) is not in a hazard or on a putting green.

If the player’s ball lies on the putting green and an immovable obstruction within two club-lengths of the putting green intervenes on his line of putt, the player may take relief as follows:

The ball must be lifted and placed at the nearest point to where the ball lay that (a) is not nearer the hole, (b) avoids intervention and (c) is not in a hazard.

The ball may be cleaned when lifted.

For more information on the Rules of Golf, see the USGA’s Rules of Golf Explained series at http://www.usga-rules.com.

The USGA will provide up to two Rules of Golf books for minimal shipping and handling charge. Please contact the USGA Order Department at 1-800-336-4446, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (ET) or go to the USGA Shop on usga.org.

Rob Ockenfuss is a Manager, Rules Inquiries for the USGA.


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