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Rule

15

Player's Edition
See Rules Of Golf
Relief from Loose Impediments and Movable Obstructions (including Ball or Ball-Marker Helping or Interfering with Play)
Player's Edition
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15.1
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b
15.2
a
b
15.3
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b
c
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Rule 14
Rule 16

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

  • These movable natural and artificial objects are not treated as part of the challenge of playing the course, and you are normally allowed to remove them when they interfere with your play.
  • But you need to be careful in moving loose impediments near your ball off the putting green, because you will get a penalty if moving them causes your ball to move.
15.1
Loose Impediments
a
Removal of Loose Impediment

You may remove a loose impediment without penalty anywhere on or off the course, and may do so in any way (such as by using your hand or foot or a club or other equipment).

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.

See Full Rules For more information on the Exceptions.

b
Ball Moved When Removing Loose Impediment

If your removal of a loose impediment causes your ball to move, your ball must be replaced on its original spot (which if not known must be estimated).

If your moved ball had been at rest anywhere except on the putting green or in the teeing area, you get one penalty stroke.

15.2
Movable Obstructions
a
Relief from Movable Obstruction

Removal of Movable Obstruction. You may remove a movable obstruction without penalty anywhere on or off the course and may do so in any way.

If your ball moves while you are removing a movable obstruction, there is no penalty and your ball must be replaced on its original spot (which if not known must be estimated).

But there are two exceptions when movable obstructions 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.

See Full Rules 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 obstruction and dropping your original ball or another ball as shown in Diagram #2 15.2a.

When a ball is in or on a movable obstruction (such as a towel) anywhere on the course, free relief may be taken by lifting the ball, removing the movable obstruction and, except on the putting green, dropping that ball or another ball.

Reference Point: The estimated point right under where the ball was at rest in or on the movable obstruction.

Size of Relief Area: One club-length from the reference point.

Limits on Relief Area: The relief area:

  • Must not be nearer the hole than the reference point, and
  • Must be in the same area of the course as the reference point.

See Full Rules 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

See Full Rules 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 Substituted Ball or Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Rule 15.2: General Penalty.

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 green.

If you reasonably believe that a ball on the putting green might help anyone's play (such as by serving as a possible backstop near the hole), you may mark and lift the ball if it is your own, or if the ball belongs to another player, require the other player to mark and lift the ball.

In stroke play only:

  • A player who is required to lift a ball may play first instead, and
  • If you and another player agree to leave a ball in place to help one of you, and that player then makes a stroke with the helping ball left in place, each player who made the agreement gets the general penalty (two penalty strokes).
b
Ball Anywhere on Course Interfering with Play

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

  • The other player may require you to mark the spot and lift your ball, which must not be cleaned (except when you lifted from the putting green).
  • If you do not mark the spot before lifting your ball, or you clean the lifted ball when not allowed, you get one penalty stroke.
  • In stroke play only, if you are required to lift your ball under this Rule, you may play first instead.

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 green), you get one penalty stroke.

c
Ball-Marker Helping or Interfering with Play

If a ball-marker might help or interfere with play, you may:

  • Move the ball-marker out of the way if it is your own, or
  • If the ball-marker belongs to another player, require that player to move the ball-marker out of the way, for the same reasons as you may require a ball to be lifted.

The ball-marker 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 Penalty.

Penalty for Playing Incorrectly Substituted Ball or Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Rule 15.3: General Penalty.

Loose Impediment

Any unattached natural object such as:

  • Stones, loose grass, leaves, branches and sticks,
  • Dead animals and animal waste,
  • Worms, insects and similar animals that can be removed easily, and the mounds or webs they build (such as worm casts and ant hills), and
  • Clumps of compacted soil (including aeration plugs).

Such natural objects are not loose if they are:

  • Attached or growing,
  • Solidly embedded in the ground (that is, cannot be picked out easily), or
  • Sticking to the ball.

Special cases:

  • Sand and loose soil are not loose impediments.
  • Dew, frost and water are not loose impediments.
  • Snow and natural ice (other than frost) are either loose impediments or, when on the ground, temporary water, at your option.
  • Spider webs are loose impediments even though they are attached to another object.
Course

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.

Equipment

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.

Loose Impediment

Any unattached natural object such as:

  • Stones, loose grass, leaves, branches and sticks,
  • Dead animals and animal waste,
  • Worms, insects and similar animals that can be removed easily, and the mounds or webs they build (such as worm casts and ant hills), and
  • Clumps of compacted soil (including aeration plugs).

Such natural objects are not loose if they are:

  • Attached or growing,
  • Solidly embedded in the ground (that is, cannot be picked out easily), or
  • Sticking to the ball.

Special cases:

  • Sand and loose soil are not loose impediments.
  • Dew, frost and water are not loose impediments.
  • Snow and natural ice (other than frost) are either loose impediments or, when on the ground, temporary water, at your option.
  • Spider webs are loose impediments even though they are attached to another object.
Moved

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).

This applies whether your ball has gone up, down or horizontally in any direction away from its original spot.

If your ball only wobbles (sometimes referred to as oscillating) and stays on or returns to its original spot, your ball has not moved.

Replace

To place a ball by setting it down and letting it go, with the intent for it to be in play.

Moved

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).

This applies whether your ball has gone up, down or horizontally in any direction away from its original spot.

If your ball only wobbles (sometimes referred to as oscillating) and stays on or returns to its original spot, your ball has not moved.

Putting 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).

Teeing 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:

  • The front edge is defined by the line between the forward-most points of two tee-markers set by the Committee, and
  • The side edges are defined by the lines back from the outside points of the tee-markers.
Movable Obstruction

An obstruction that can be moved with reasonable effort and without damaging the obstruction or the course.

If part of an immovable obstruction or integral object (such as a gate or door or part of an attached cable) meets these two standards, that part is treated as a movable obstructionBut this does not apply if the movable part of an immovable obstruction or integral object is not meant to be moved (such as a loose stone that is part of a stone wall).

Course

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.

Moved

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).

This applies whether your ball has gone up, down or horizontally in any direction away from its original spot.

If your ball only wobbles (sometimes referred to as oscillating) and stays on or returns to its original spot, your ball has not moved.

Movable Obstruction

An obstruction that can be moved with reasonable effort and without damaging the obstruction or the course.

If part of an immovable obstruction or integral object (such as a gate or door or part of an attached cable) meets these two standards, that part is treated as a movable obstructionBut this does not apply if the movable part of an immovable obstruction or integral object is not meant to be moved (such as a loose stone that is part of a stone wall).

Replace

To place a ball by setting it down and letting it go, with the intent for it to be in play.

Movable Obstruction

An obstruction that can be moved with reasonable effort and without damaging the obstruction or the course.

If part of an immovable obstruction or integral object (such as a gate or door or part of an attached cable) meets these two standards, that part is treated as a movable obstructionBut this does not apply if the movable part of an immovable obstruction or integral object is not meant to be moved (such as a loose stone that is part of a stone wall).

Movable Obstruction

An obstruction that can be moved with reasonable effort and without damaging the obstruction or the course.

If part of an immovable obstruction or integral object (such as a gate or door or part of an attached cable) meets these two standards, that part is treated as a movable obstructionBut this does not apply if the movable part of an immovable obstruction or integral object is not meant to be moved (such as a loose stone that is part of a stone wall).

Drop

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.

In taking relief, you must let go of the ball from a location at knee height so that the ball:

  • Falls straight down, without you throwing, spinning or rolling it or using any other motion that might affect where the ball will come to rest, and
  • Does not touch any part of your body or equipment before it hits the ground (see Rule 14.3b).
Substitute

To change the ball you are using to play a hole by having another ball become your ball in play.

Wrong Place

Any place on the course other than where you are required or allowed to play your ball under the Rules.

General Area

The area of the course that covers all of the course except for the other four defined areas: (1) the teeing area you must play from in starting the hole you are playing, (2) all penalty areas, (3) all bunkers, and (4) the putting green of the hole you are playing.

The general area includes all teeing locations on the course other than the teeing area, and all wrong greens.

Putting 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).

Putting 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).

Hole

The finishing point on the putting green for the hole you are playing.

Mark

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.

Mark

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.

Stroke Play

A form of play where you or your side competes against all other players or sides in the competition.

Stroke

The forward movement of your club made to strike the ball.

General Penalty

Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play.

Mark

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.

Putting 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).

Mark

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.

Stroke Play

A form of play where you or your side competes against all other players or sides in the competition.

Putting 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).

Ball-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.

Ball-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.

Ball-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.

Ball-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.

Ball-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.

General Penalty

Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play.

Substitute

To change the ball you are using to play a hole by having another ball become your ball in play.

Wrong Place

Any place on the course other than where you are required or allowed to play your ball under the Rules.

General Penalty

Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play.