Railroad ties are popular in many golf course designs. They are man-made wooden objects and often times are found in bunkers or serve as bulkheads in water hazards. So what do you do when you find your golf ball up against one of these? The answer depends on whether the Committee in charge of the golf course or competition has declared them to be an integral part of the course. Railroad ties by definition are obstructions within the Rules of Golf. Therefore, if the committee does nothing to clarify their treatment they will be treated as obstructions. When that happens, a player who has interference from railroad ties in the area known as through the green or in a bunker will be entitled to relief under the Obstruction Rule. Often times the Committee will decide to declare railroad ties as an integral part of the course and a player who has interference from railroad ties will receive no relief without penalty. The player must either play the ball as it lies, without penalty, or deem the ball unplayable and under penalty of one stroke, proceed with one of the options provided in Rule 28 (Ball Unplayable). Here is a terrific animation explaining Rule 28: Ball Unplayable Animation. Railroad ties are used many times inside the margins of water hazards as bulkheads. When your ball is in a water hazard and you have interference from the railroad ties, you may not take relief under the obstruction rule. This is because water hazards, when you are in them, are special places where only the Water Hazard Rule can help if you are looking for relief. As you can see, knowing and understanding local rules can help you know how to handle many situations including those ever popular railroad ties.