Rule 15 - Relief from Loose Impediments and Movable Obstructions (including Ball or Ball-Marker Helping or Interfering with Play)

Purpose of Rule: Rule 15 covers when and how you may take free relief from loose impediments and movable obstructions.

15.1  Loose Impediments

a. Removal of Loose Impediment

You may remove a loose impedimentLoose Impediment: Any unattached natural object such as: without penalty anywhere on or off the courseCourse: The entire area of play within the edge of any boundaries set by the Committee. The boundary edge extends both up above the ground and down below the ground., and may do so in any way (such as by using your hand or foot or a club or other equipmentEquipment: Anything used, worn, held or carried by you or your caddie. Objects used for the care of the course, such as rakes, are equipment only while they are being held or carried by you or your caddie.).

But there are two exceptions:

Exception 1 – Removing Loose Impediment Where Ball Must Be Replaced.

Exception 2 – Restrictions on Deliberately Removing Loose Impediments to Affect Ball in Motion.

 For more information on the Exceptions.

b. Ball Moved When Removing Loose Impediment

If your removal of a loose impedimentLoose Impediment: Any unattached natural object such as: causes your ball to moveMoved: When your ball at rest has left its original spot and come to rest on any other spot, and this can be seen by the naked eye (whether or not anyone actually sees it do so)., your ball must be replacedReplace: To place a ball by setting it down and letting it go, with the intent for it to be in play. on its original spot (which if not known must be estimated).

If your movedMoved: When your ball at rest has left its original spot and come to rest on any other spot, and this can be seen by the naked eye (whether or not anyone actually sees it do so). ball had been at rest anywhere except on the putting greenPutting Green: The area on the hole you are playing that is specially prepared for putting, or the Committee has defined as the putting green (such as when a temporary green is used). or in the teeing areaTeeing Area: The area you must play from in starting the hole you are playing. The teeing area is a rectangle that is two club-lengths deep where:, you get one penalty stroke.

15.2  Movable Obstructions

a. Relief from Movable Obstruction

Removal of Movable Obstruction. You may remove a movable obstructionMovable Obstruction: An obstruction that can be moved with reasonable effort and without damaging the obstruction or the course. without penalty anywhere on or off the courseCourse: The entire area of play within the edge of any boundaries set by the Committee. The boundary edge extends both up above the ground and down below the ground. and may do so in any way.

If your ball movesMoved: When your ball at rest has left its original spot and come to rest on any other spot, and this can be seen by the naked eye (whether or not anyone actually sees it do so). while you are removing a movable obstructionMovable Obstruction: An obstruction that can be moved with reasonable effort and without damaging the obstruction or the course., there is no penalty and your ball must be replacedReplace: To place a ball by setting it down and letting it go, with the intent for it to be in play. on its original spot (which if not known must be estimated).

But there are two exceptions when movable obstructionsMovable Obstruction: An obstruction that can be moved with reasonable effort and without damaging the obstruction or the course. cannot be removed:

Exception 1 – Tee Markers Must Not be Moved When Ball Will Be Played from Teeing Area.

Exception 2 – Restrictions on Deliberately Removing Movable Obstruction to Affect a Ball in Motion.

 For more information on the Exceptions.

When Your Ball Is in or on Movable Obstruction Anywhere on Course Except on Putting Green. You may take free relief by lifting your ball, removing the movable obstructionMovable Obstruction: An obstruction that can be moved with reasonable effort and without damaging the obstruction or the course. and droppingDrop: To hold the ball and let go of it so that it falls through the air, with the intent for the ball to be in play. Each relief Rule identifies a specific relief area where your ball must be dropped and come to rest. your original ball or another ball as shown in Diagram #2 15.2a.

 For information on how to take free relief when your ball is on a movable obstruction on the putting green.

b. Relief for Ball Not Found but in or on Movable Obstruction

 For information on how to take relief if your ball is in or on a movable obstruction but has not been found.

Penalty for Playing Incorrectly SubstitutedSubstitute: To change the ball you are using to play a hole by having another ball become your ball in play. Ball or Playing Ball from a Wrong PlaceWrong Place: Any place on the course other than where you are required or allowed to play your ball under the Rules. in Breach of Rule 15.2: General PenaltyGeneral Penalty: Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play..

15.3  Ball or Ball-Marker Helping or Interfering with Play

a. Ball on Putting Green Helping Play

This Rule applies only to a ball at rest on the putting greenPutting Green: The area on the hole you are playing that is specially prepared for putting, or the Committee has defined as the putting green (such as when a temporary green is used)..

If you reasonably believe that a ball on the putting greenPutting Green: The area on the hole you are playing that is specially prepared for putting, or the Committee has defined as the putting green (such as when a temporary green is used). might help anyone’s play (such as by serving as a possible backstop near the holeHole: The finishing point on the putting green for the hole you are playing.), you may markMark: To show the spot where a ball is at rest by either placing a ball-marker right behind or right next to the ball, or holding a club on the ground right behind or right next to the ball. and lift the ball if it is your own, or if the ball belongs to another player, require the other player to markMark: To show the spot where a ball is at rest by either placing a ball-marker right behind or right next to the ball, or holding a club on the ground right behind or right next to the ball. and lift the ball.

In stroke playStroke Play: A form of play where you or your side competes against all other players or sides in the competition. only:

b. Ball Anywhere on Course Interfering with Play

If another player reasonably believes your ball might interfere with his or her play:

You are not allowed to lift your ball under this Rule based only on your belief that your ball might interfere with another player’s play.

If you lift your ball when not required to do so by another player (except when lifting the ball on the putting greenPutting Green: The area on the hole you are playing that is specially prepared for putting, or the Committee has defined as the putting green (such as when a temporary green is used).), you get one penalty stroke.

c. Ball-Marker Helping or Interfering with Play

If a ball-markerBall-Marker: An artificial object when used to mark the spot of your ball to be lifted, such as a tee, a coin, an object made to be a ball-marker or another small piece of equipment. might help or interfere with play, you may:

The ball-markerBall-Marker: An artificial object when used to mark the spot of your ball to be lifted, such as a tee, a coin, an object made to be a ball-marker or another small piece of equipment. must be moved out of the way to a new spot measured from its original spot, such as by using one or more clubhead-lengths.

Penalty for Breach of Rule 15.3: General PenaltyGeneral Penalty: Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play..

Penalty for Playing Incorrectly SubstitutedSubstitute: To change the ball you are using to play a hole by having another ball become your ball in play. Ball or Playing Ball from a Wrong PlaceWrong Place: Any place on the course other than where you are required or allowed to play your ball under the Rules. in Breach of Rule 15.3: General PenaltyGeneral Penalty: Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play..