Rules FAQ

Rule 24-1

Status of Stakes Defining Water Hazards

Q. May stakes defining or identifying water hazards be moved?

A. Stakes defining water hazards are obstructions.

If they can easily be moved, then they are movable obstructions and may be removed in accordance with Rule 24-1. However, if the stakes can not be removed without unreasonable effort, causing delay, or damaging the course, they are immovable obstructions, and Rule 24-2b applies.

Additionally, the Committee may make a Local Rule specifying that the water hazard stakes are immovable obstructions (see Definition of "Obstructions").

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Immovable Obstructions

The fundamentals of taking relief from an immovable obstruction are explained.

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Movable Obstructions

Dealing with a movable artifical object

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Nearest Point of Relief

How to determine your nearest point of relief

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Immovable obstruction

During a playoff at the 1987 Los Angeles Open, Ben Crenshaw’s ball landed on this artificially-surfaced service road adjacent to the 15th fairway. Classified as an “immovable obstruction,” Crenshaw was entitled to relief without penalty from the road under Rule 24-2.

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Entitled to relief from physical interference

With the 2003 U.S Women’s Open championship on the line, Annika Sorenstam’s disastrous approach shot on the final hole disappeared into the trees and wound up beneath a fence and behind the large scoreboard.

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An unusual lie

At the 1949 British Open, Harry Bradshaw was faced with an unusual lie – his ball came to rest within a glass bottle. Rule 24-1 offered assistance: If a ball lies in or on a “movable obstruction” such as this bottle, the ball may be lifted, without penalty…

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Permanent obstruction

Aree Song’s approach shot on the 18th hole during the first round of the 2003 U.S. Women’s Open came to rest just in front of this drain, which is a permanent obstruction.

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Ball comes to rest in a tricky lie

While in a playoff at the 1988 “Canon Sammy Davis Jr. Greater Hartford Open,” Dave Barr’s ball came to rest in a tricky lie. The ball was within the margin of a lateral water hazard, nestled in the grass beside the wooden pilings – an immovable obstruction. Because his ball was considered to be within the water hazard, Barr was not entitled to relief, under the obstruction Rule.

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Hoping that he would be entitled to relief

On the 2nd hole of the final round at the 1999 British Open, David Frost’s lie was in this thick rough off the fairway. Frost summoned a Rules Official hoping that he would be entitled to relief. He believed that in order to take a proper stance, he would have to stand with one foot on the cart path…which was an immovable obstruction.

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Relief from a cart path

At the 1993 Buick Invitational of California, Payne Stewart took relief from a cart path, which is an immovable obstruction. While Rule 24-2 does state that a player may obtain relief from such interference without penalty, Stewart's right foot was still touching the cart path, which meant he failed to take complete relief from the obstruction.

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Obstructions come in all shapes and sizes

Obstructions come in all shapes and sizes. At the 2000 U.S. Open, Angel Cabrera's tee shot found an unlikely home: in a garbage can.