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

15.1 Loose Impediments

15.1a/1 – Removing a Loose Impediment, Including Assistance from Others

Loose impedimentsLoose Impediment: Any unattached natural object such as:(...Continued) come in many shapes and sizes (such as acorns and large rocks), and the means and methods by which they may be removed are not limited, except that removal must not unreasonably delay play (see Rule 5.6a).

For example, a player may use a towel, hand or hat, or may lift or push a loose impedimentLoose Impediment: Any unattached natural object such as:(...Continued) for removal. A player is also allowed to seek help in removing loose impedimentsLoose Impediment: Any unattached natural object such as:(...Continued), such as by asking spectators for assistance in removing a large tree branch.

15.1a/2 – Player Allowed to Break Off Part of Loose Impediment

While Rule 15.1a allows a player to remove a loose impedimentLoose Impediment: Any unattached natural object such as:(...Continued), he or she may also break off part of a loose impedimentLoose Impediment: Any unattached natural object such as:(...Continued).

For example, a player’s ball comes to rest behind a large branch that has broken off a tree. Rather than seek help from other players to remove the entire tree branch, the player may break off the part that is in his or her way.

15.1a/3 – Removal of Loose Impediment from Relief Area or Spot Where Ball to Be Dropped, Placed or Replaced

Exception 1 to Rule 15.1a makes clear that, before replacingReplace: To place a ball by setting it down and letting it go, with the intent for it to be in play.(...Continued) a ball, the player must not remove a loose impedimentLoose Impediment: Any unattached natural object such as:(...Continued) that, if moved when the ball was at rest, would have been likely to cause the ball to moveMoved: When a 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).(...Continued). This is because when the ball is in its initial location, the player risks the ball movingMoved: When a 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).(...Continued) when removing the loose impedimentLoose Impediment: Any unattached natural object such as:(...Continued).

However, when a ball is to be droppedDrop: 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.(...Continued) or placed, the ball is not being put back in a specific spot and therefore removing loose impedimentsLoose Impediment: Any unattached natural object such as:(...Continued) before 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.(...Continued) or placing a ball is allowed.

For example, if a player is applying Rule 14.3b when 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.(...Continued) a ball in a relief areaRelief Area: The area where a player must drop a ball when taking relief under a Rule. Each relief Rule requires the player to use a specific relief area whose size and location are based on these three factors:(...Continued) or Rule 14.3c(2) when a droppedDrop: 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.(...Continued) ball will not stay in a relief areaRelief Area: The area where a player must drop a ball when taking relief under a Rule. Each relief Rule requires the player to use a specific relief area whose size and location are based on these three factors:(...Continued) and the player now must place a ball, the player is allowed to remove loose impedimentsLoose Impediment: Any unattached natural object such as:(...Continued) from the relief areaRelief Area: The area where a player must drop a ball when taking relief under a Rule. Each relief Rule requires the player to use a specific relief area whose size and location are based on these three factors:(...Continued) into which a ball will be droppedDrop: 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.(...Continued) or from on or around the spot on which the player must place a ball.

15.3 Ball or Ball-Marker Helping or Interfering with Play

15.3a/1 – Breach of Rule for Leaving Helping Ball in Place Does Not Require Knowledge

In stroke play, under Rule 15.3a, if two or more players agree to leave a ball in place on the putting greenPutting Green: The area on the hole the player is playing that:(...Continued) to help any player, and the strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball.(...Continued) is made with the helping ball left in place, each player who made the agreement gets two penalty strokes. A breach of Rule 15.3a does not depend on whether the players know that such an agreement is not allowed.

For example, in stroke playStroke Play: A form of play where a player or side competes against all other players or sides in the competition.(...Continued), before playing from just off the putting greenPutting Green: The area on the hole the player is playing that:(...Continued), a player asks another player to leave his or her ball that is near the holeHole: The finishing point on the putting green for the hole being played:(...Continued), in order to use it as a backstop. Without knowing this is not allowed, the other player agrees to leave his or her ball by the holeHole: The finishing point on the putting green for the hole being played:(...Continued) to help the other player. Once the strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball.(...Continued) is made with the ball in place, both players get the penalty under Rule 15.3a.

The same outcome would apply if the player whose ball was near the hole offered to leave the ball in playIn Play: The status of a player’s ball when it lies on the course and is being used in the play of a hole:(...Continued) to help the other player, and the other player accepted the offer and then played.

If the players know that they are not allowed to make such an agreement, but still do it, they are both disqualified under Rule 1.3b(1) for deliberately ignoring Rule 15.3a.

15.3a/2 – Players Allowed to Leave Helping Ball in Match Play

In a match, a player may agree to leave his or her ball in place to help the opponentOpponent: The person a player competes against in a match. The term opponent applies only in match play. since the outcome of any benefit that may come from the agreement affects only their match.