Rule

15

Interpretations
See Rule Content
Relief from Loose Impediments and Movable Obstructions (including Ball or Ball-Marker Helping or Interfering with Play)
Interpretations
See Rule Content
Jump To Section
15.1
15.1a
15.1a/1
15.1a/2
15.1a/3
15.3
15.3a
15.3a/1
15.3a/2

Purpose: Rule 15 covers when and how the player 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 a player is normally allowed to remove them when they interfere with play.
  • But the player needs to be careful in moving loose impediments near his or her ball off the putting green, because there will be a penalty if moving them causes the ball to move.
15.1
Loose Impediments
15.1a
Removal of Loose Impediment
15.1a/1
Removing a Loose Impediment, Including Assistance from Others

Loose impediments 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 impediment for removal. A player is also allowed to seek help in removing loose impediments, 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 impediment, he or she may also break off part of a loose impediment.

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 replacing a ball, the player must not remove a loose impediment that, if moved when the ball was at rest, would have been likely to cause the ball to move. This is because when the ball is in its initial location, the player risks the ball moving when removing the loose impediment.

However, when a ball is to be dropped or placed, the ball is not being put back in a specific spot and therefore removing loose impediments before dropping or placing a ball is allowed.

For example, if a player is applying Rule 14.3b when dropping a ball in a relief area or Rule 14.3c(2) when a dropped ball will not stay in a relief area and the player now must place a ball, the player is allowed to remove loose impediments from the relief area into which a ball will be dropped 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
Ball on Putting Green Helping 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 green to help any player, and the stroke 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 play, before playing from just off the putting green, a player asks another player to leave his or her ball that is near the hole, 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 hole to help the other player. Once the stroke 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 play 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 opponent since the outcome of any benefit that may come from the agreement affects only their match.

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 the player's option.
  • Spider Webs are loose impediments even though they are attached to another object.

 

Interpretation Loose Impediment/1 - Status of Fruit

Fruit that is detached from its tree or bush is a loose impediment, even if the fruit is from a bush or tree not found on the course.

For example, fruit that has been partially eaten or cut into pieces, and the skin that has been peeled from a piece of fruit are loose impediments. But, when being carried by a player, it is his or her equipment.

Interpretation Loose Impediment/2 - When Loose Impediment Becomes Obstruction

Loose impediments may be transformed into obstructions through the processes of construction or manufacturing.

For example, a log (loose impediment) that has been split and had legs attached has been changed by construction into a bench (obstruction).

Interpretation Loose Impediment/3 - Status of Saliva

Saliva may be treated as either temporary water or a loose impediment, at the option of the player.

Interpretation Loose Impediment/4 - Loose Impediments Used to Surface a Road

Gravel is a loose impediment and a player may remove loose impediments under Rule 15.1a. This right is not affected by the fact that, when a road is covered with gravel, it becomes an artificially surfaced road, making it an immovable obstruction. The same principle applies to roads or paths constructed with stone, crushed shell, wood chips or the like.

In such a situation, the player may:

  • Play the ball as it lies on the obstruction and remove gravel (loose impediment) from the road (Rule 15.1a).
  • Take relief without penalty from the abnormal course condition (immovable obstruction) (Rule 16.1b).

The player may also remove some gravel from the road to determine the possibility of playing the ball as it lies before choosing to take free relief.

Interpretation Loose Impediment/5 - Living Insect Is Never Sticking to a Ball

Although dead insects may be considered to be sticking to a ball, living insects are never considered to be sticking to a ball, whether they are stationary or moving. Therefore, live insects on a ball are loose impediments.

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 the player's option.
  • Spider Webs are loose impediments even though they are attached to another object.

 

Interpretation Loose Impediment/1 - Status of Fruit

Fruit that is detached from its tree or bush is a loose impediment, even if the fruit is from a bush or tree not found on the course.

For example, fruit that has been partially eaten or cut into pieces, and the skin that has been peeled from a piece of fruit are loose impediments. But, when being carried by a player, it is his or her equipment.

Interpretation Loose Impediment/2 - When Loose Impediment Becomes Obstruction

Loose impediments may be transformed into obstructions through the processes of construction or manufacturing.

For example, a log (loose impediment) that has been split and had legs attached has been changed by construction into a bench (obstruction).

Interpretation Loose Impediment/3 - Status of Saliva

Saliva may be treated as either temporary water or a loose impediment, at the option of the player.

Interpretation Loose Impediment/4 - Loose Impediments Used to Surface a Road

Gravel is a loose impediment and a player may remove loose impediments under Rule 15.1a. This right is not affected by the fact that, when a road is covered with gravel, it becomes an artificially surfaced road, making it an immovable obstruction. The same principle applies to roads or paths constructed with stone, crushed shell, wood chips or the like.

In such a situation, the player may:

  • Play the ball as it lies on the obstruction and remove gravel (loose impediment) from the road (Rule 15.1a).
  • Take relief without penalty from the abnormal course condition (immovable obstruction) (Rule 16.1b).

The player may also remove some gravel from the road to determine the possibility of playing the ball as it lies before choosing to take free relief.

Interpretation Loose Impediment/5 - Living Insect Is Never Sticking to a Ball

Although dead insects may be considered to be sticking to a ball, living insects are never considered to be sticking to a ball, whether they are stationary or moving. Therefore, live insects on a ball are loose impediments.

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 the player's option.
  • Spider Webs are loose impediments even though they are attached to another object.

 

Interpretation Loose Impediment/1 - Status of Fruit

Fruit that is detached from its tree or bush is a loose impediment, even if the fruit is from a bush or tree not found on the course.

For example, fruit that has been partially eaten or cut into pieces, and the skin that has been peeled from a piece of fruit are loose impediments. But, when being carried by a player, it is his or her equipment.

Interpretation Loose Impediment/2 - When Loose Impediment Becomes Obstruction

Loose impediments may be transformed into obstructions through the processes of construction or manufacturing.

For example, a log (loose impediment) that has been split and had legs attached has been changed by construction into a bench (obstruction).

Interpretation Loose Impediment/3 - Status of Saliva

Saliva may be treated as either temporary water or a loose impediment, at the option of the player.

Interpretation Loose Impediment/4 - Loose Impediments Used to Surface a Road

Gravel is a loose impediment and a player may remove loose impediments under Rule 15.1a. This right is not affected by the fact that, when a road is covered with gravel, it becomes an artificially surfaced road, making it an immovable obstruction. The same principle applies to roads or paths constructed with stone, crushed shell, wood chips or the like.

In such a situation, the player may:

  • Play the ball as it lies on the obstruction and remove gravel (loose impediment) from the road (Rule 15.1a).
  • Take relief without penalty from the abnormal course condition (immovable obstruction) (Rule 16.1b).

The player may also remove some gravel from the road to determine the possibility of playing the ball as it lies before choosing to take free relief.

Interpretation Loose Impediment/5 - Living Insect Is Never Sticking to a Ball

Although dead insects may be considered to be sticking to a ball, living insects are never considered to be sticking to a ball, whether they are stationary or moving. Therefore, live insects on a ball are loose impediments.

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 the player's option.
  • Spider Webs are loose impediments even though they are attached to another object.

 

Interpretation Loose Impediment/1 - Status of Fruit

Fruit that is detached from its tree or bush is a loose impediment, even if the fruit is from a bush or tree not found on the course.

For example, fruit that has been partially eaten or cut into pieces, and the skin that has been peeled from a piece of fruit are loose impediments. But, when being carried by a player, it is his or her equipment.

Interpretation Loose Impediment/2 - When Loose Impediment Becomes Obstruction

Loose impediments may be transformed into obstructions through the processes of construction or manufacturing.

For example, a log (loose impediment) that has been split and had legs attached has been changed by construction into a bench (obstruction).

Interpretation Loose Impediment/3 - Status of Saliva

Saliva may be treated as either temporary water or a loose impediment, at the option of the player.

Interpretation Loose Impediment/4 - Loose Impediments Used to Surface a Road

Gravel is a loose impediment and a player may remove loose impediments under Rule 15.1a. This right is not affected by the fact that, when a road is covered with gravel, it becomes an artificially surfaced road, making it an immovable obstruction. The same principle applies to roads or paths constructed with stone, crushed shell, wood chips or the like.

In such a situation, the player may:

  • Play the ball as it lies on the obstruction and remove gravel (loose impediment) from the road (Rule 15.1a).
  • Take relief without penalty from the abnormal course condition (immovable obstruction) (Rule 16.1b).

The player may also remove some gravel from the road to determine the possibility of playing the ball as it lies before choosing to take free relief.

Interpretation Loose Impediment/5 - Living Insect Is Never Sticking to a Ball

Although dead insects may be considered to be sticking to a ball, living insects are never considered to be sticking to a ball, whether they are stationary or moving. Therefore, live insects on a ball are loose impediments.

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 the player's option.
  • Spider Webs are loose impediments even though they are attached to another object.

 

Interpretation Loose Impediment/1 - Status of Fruit

Fruit that is detached from its tree or bush is a loose impediment, even if the fruit is from a bush or tree not found on the course.

For example, fruit that has been partially eaten or cut into pieces, and the skin that has been peeled from a piece of fruit are loose impediments. But, when being carried by a player, it is his or her equipment.

Interpretation Loose Impediment/2 - When Loose Impediment Becomes Obstruction

Loose impediments may be transformed into obstructions through the processes of construction or manufacturing.

For example, a log (loose impediment) that has been split and had legs attached has been changed by construction into a bench (obstruction).

Interpretation Loose Impediment/3 - Status of Saliva

Saliva may be treated as either temporary water or a loose impediment, at the option of the player.

Interpretation Loose Impediment/4 - Loose Impediments Used to Surface a Road

Gravel is a loose impediment and a player may remove loose impediments under Rule 15.1a. This right is not affected by the fact that, when a road is covered with gravel, it becomes an artificially surfaced road, making it an immovable obstruction. The same principle applies to roads or paths constructed with stone, crushed shell, wood chips or the like.

In such a situation, the player may:

  • Play the ball as it lies on the obstruction and remove gravel (loose impediment) from the road (Rule 15.1a).
  • Take relief without penalty from the abnormal course condition (immovable obstruction) (Rule 16.1b).

The player may also remove some gravel from the road to determine the possibility of playing the ball as it lies before choosing to take free relief.

Interpretation Loose Impediment/5 - Living Insect Is Never Sticking to a Ball

Although dead insects may be considered to be sticking to a ball, living insects are never considered to be sticking to a ball, whether they are stationary or moving. Therefore, live insects on a ball are loose impediments.

Replace

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

If the player sets a ball down without intending it to be in play, the ball has not been replaced and is not in play (see Rule 14.4).

Whenever a Rule requires a ball to be replaced, the Rule identifies a specific spot where the ball must be replaced.

 

Interpretation Replace/1 - Ball May Not Be Replaced with a Club

For a ball to be replaced in a right way, it must be set down and let go. This means the player must use his or her hand to put the ball back in play on the spot it was lifted or moved from.

For example, if a player lifts his or her ball from the putting green and sets it aside, the player must not replace the ball by rolling it to the required spot with a club. If he or she does so, the ball is not replaced in the right way and the player gets one penalty stroke under Rule 14.2b(2) (How Ball Must Be Replaced) if the mistake is not corrected before the stroke is made.

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 the player's option.
  • Spider Webs are loose impediments even though they are attached to another object.

 

Interpretation Loose Impediment/1 - Status of Fruit

Fruit that is detached from its tree or bush is a loose impediment, even if the fruit is from a bush or tree not found on the course.

For example, fruit that has been partially eaten or cut into pieces, and the skin that has been peeled from a piece of fruit are loose impediments. But, when being carried by a player, it is his or her equipment.

Interpretation Loose Impediment/2 - When Loose Impediment Becomes Obstruction

Loose impediments may be transformed into obstructions through the processes of construction or manufacturing.

For example, a log (loose impediment) that has been split and had legs attached has been changed by construction into a bench (obstruction).

Interpretation Loose Impediment/3 - Status of Saliva

Saliva may be treated as either temporary water or a loose impediment, at the option of the player.

Interpretation Loose Impediment/4 - Loose Impediments Used to Surface a Road

Gravel is a loose impediment and a player may remove loose impediments under Rule 15.1a. This right is not affected by the fact that, when a road is covered with gravel, it becomes an artificially surfaced road, making it an immovable obstruction. The same principle applies to roads or paths constructed with stone, crushed shell, wood chips or the like.

In such a situation, the player may:

  • Play the ball as it lies on the obstruction and remove gravel (loose impediment) from the road (Rule 15.1a).
  • Take relief without penalty from the abnormal course condition (immovable obstruction) (Rule 16.1b).

The player may also remove some gravel from the road to determine the possibility of playing the ball as it lies before choosing to take free relief.

Interpretation Loose Impediment/5 - Living Insect Is Never Sticking to a Ball

Although dead insects may be considered to be sticking to a ball, living insects are never considered to be sticking to a ball, whether they are stationary or moving. Therefore, live insects on a ball are loose impediments.

Moved

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).

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

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

 

Interpretation Moved/1 - When Ball Resting on Object Has Moved

For the purpose of deciding whether a ball must be replaced or whether a player gets a penalty, a ball is treated as having moved only if it has moved in relation to a specific part of the larger condition or object it is resting on, unless the entire object the ball is resting on has moved in relation to the ground.

An example of when a ball has not moved includes when:

  • A ball is resting in the fork of a tree branch and the tree branch moves, but the ball's spot in the branch does not change.

Examples of when a ball has moved include when:

  • A ball is resting in a stationary plastic cup and the cup itself moves in relation to the ground because it is being blown by the wind.
  • A ball is resting in or on a stationary motorized cart that starts to move.

Interpretation Moved/2 - Television Evidence Shows Ball at Rest Changed Position but by Amount Not Reasonably Discernible to Naked Eye

When determining whether or not a ball at rest has moved, a player must make that judgment based on all the information reasonably available to him or her at the time, so that he or she can determine whether the ball must be replaced under the Rules. When the player's ball has left its original position and come to rest in another place by an amount that was not reasonably discernible to the naked eye at the time, a player's determination that the ball has not moved is conclusive, even if that determination is later shown to be incorrect through the use of sophisticated technology.

On the other hand, if the Committee determines, based on all of the evidence it has available, that the ball changed its position by an amount that was reasonably discernible to the naked eye at the time, the ball will be determined to have moved even though no-one actually saw it move.

Moved

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).

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

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

 

Interpretation Moved/1 - When Ball Resting on Object Has Moved

For the purpose of deciding whether a ball must be replaced or whether a player gets a penalty, a ball is treated as having moved only if it has moved in relation to a specific part of the larger condition or object it is resting on, unless the entire object the ball is resting on has moved in relation to the ground.

An example of when a ball has not moved includes when:

  • A ball is resting in the fork of a tree branch and the tree branch moves, but the ball's spot in the branch does not change.

Examples of when a ball has moved include when:

  • A ball is resting in a stationary plastic cup and the cup itself moves in relation to the ground because it is being blown by the wind.
  • A ball is resting in or on a stationary motorized cart that starts to move.

Interpretation Moved/2 - Television Evidence Shows Ball at Rest Changed Position but by Amount Not Reasonably Discernible to Naked Eye

When determining whether or not a ball at rest has moved, a player must make that judgment based on all the information reasonably available to him or her at the time, so that he or she can determine whether the ball must be replaced under the Rules. When the player's ball has left its original position and come to rest in another place by an amount that was not reasonably discernible to the naked eye at the time, a player's determination that the ball has not moved is conclusive, even if that determination is later shown to be incorrect through the use of sophisticated technology.

On the other hand, if the Committee determines, based on all of the evidence it has available, that the ball changed its position by an amount that was reasonably discernible to the naked eye at the time, the ball will be determined to have moved even though no-one actually saw it move.

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 the player's option.
  • Spider Webs are loose impediments even though they are attached to another object.

 

Interpretation Loose Impediment/1 - Status of Fruit

Fruit that is detached from its tree or bush is a loose impediment, even if the fruit is from a bush or tree not found on the course.

For example, fruit that has been partially eaten or cut into pieces, and the skin that has been peeled from a piece of fruit are loose impediments. But, when being carried by a player, it is his or her equipment.

Interpretation Loose Impediment/2 - When Loose Impediment Becomes Obstruction

Loose impediments may be transformed into obstructions through the processes of construction or manufacturing.

For example, a log (loose impediment) that has been split and had legs attached has been changed by construction into a bench (obstruction).

Interpretation Loose Impediment/3 - Status of Saliva

Saliva may be treated as either temporary water or a loose impediment, at the option of the player.

Interpretation Loose Impediment/4 - Loose Impediments Used to Surface a Road

Gravel is a loose impediment and a player may remove loose impediments under Rule 15.1a. This right is not affected by the fact that, when a road is covered with gravel, it becomes an artificially surfaced road, making it an immovable obstruction. The same principle applies to roads or paths constructed with stone, crushed shell, wood chips or the like.

In such a situation, the player may:

  • Play the ball as it lies on the obstruction and remove gravel (loose impediment) from the road (Rule 15.1a).
  • Take relief without penalty from the abnormal course condition (immovable obstruction) (Rule 16.1b).

The player may also remove some gravel from the road to determine the possibility of playing the ball as it lies before choosing to take free relief.

Interpretation Loose Impediment/5 - Living Insect Is Never Sticking to a Ball

Although dead insects may be considered to be sticking to a ball, living insects are never considered to be sticking to a ball, whether they are stationary or moving. Therefore, live insects on a ball are loose impediments.

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.

If the player lets go of a ball without intending it to be in play, the ball has not been dropped and is not in play (see Rule 14.4).

Each relief Rule identifies a specific relief area where the ball must be dropped and come to rest.

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

  • Falls straight down, without the player 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 the player’s body or equipment before it hits the ground (see Rule 14.3b).
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 the player's option.
  • Spider Webs are loose impediments even though they are attached to another object.

 

Interpretation Loose Impediment/1 - Status of Fruit

Fruit that is detached from its tree or bush is a loose impediment, even if the fruit is from a bush or tree not found on the course.

For example, fruit that has been partially eaten or cut into pieces, and the skin that has been peeled from a piece of fruit are loose impediments. But, when being carried by a player, it is his or her equipment.

Interpretation Loose Impediment/2 - When Loose Impediment Becomes Obstruction

Loose impediments may be transformed into obstructions through the processes of construction or manufacturing.

For example, a log (loose impediment) that has been split and had legs attached has been changed by construction into a bench (obstruction).

Interpretation Loose Impediment/3 - Status of Saliva

Saliva may be treated as either temporary water or a loose impediment, at the option of the player.

Interpretation Loose Impediment/4 - Loose Impediments Used to Surface a Road

Gravel is a loose impediment and a player may remove loose impediments under Rule 15.1a. This right is not affected by the fact that, when a road is covered with gravel, it becomes an artificially surfaced road, making it an immovable obstruction. The same principle applies to roads or paths constructed with stone, crushed shell, wood chips or the like.

In such a situation, the player may:

  • Play the ball as it lies on the obstruction and remove gravel (loose impediment) from the road (Rule 15.1a).
  • Take relief without penalty from the abnormal course condition (immovable obstruction) (Rule 16.1b).

The player may also remove some gravel from the road to determine the possibility of playing the ball as it lies before choosing to take free relief.

Interpretation Loose Impediment/5 - Living Insect Is Never Sticking to a Ball

Although dead insects may be considered to be sticking to a ball, living insects are never considered to be sticking to a ball, whether they are stationary or moving. Therefore, live insects on a ball are loose impediments.

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.

If the player lets go of a ball without intending it to be in play, the ball has not been dropped and is not in play (see Rule 14.4).

Each relief Rule identifies a specific relief area where the ball must be dropped and come to rest.

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

  • Falls straight down, without the player 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 the player’s body or equipment before it hits the ground (see Rule 14.3b).
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.

If the player lets go of a ball without intending it to be in play, the ball has not been dropped and is not in play (see Rule 14.4).

Each relief Rule identifies a specific relief area where the ball must be dropped and come to rest.

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

  • Falls straight down, without the player 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 the player’s body or equipment before it hits the ground (see Rule 14.3b).
Relief 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:

  • Reference Point: The point from which the size of relief area is measured.
  • Size of Relief Area Measured from Reference Point: The relief area is either one or two club-lengths from the reference point, but with certain limits:
  • Limits on Location of Relief Area: The location of the relief area may be limited in one or more ways so that, for example:
    • It is only in certain defined areas of the course, such as only in the general area, or not in a bunker or a penalty area,
    • It is not nearer the hole than the reference point or must be outside a penalty area or a bunker from which relief is being taken, or
    • It is where there is no interference (as defined in the particular Rule) from the condition from which relief is being taken.

In using club-lengths to determine the size of a relief area, the player may measure directly across a ditch, hole or similar thing, and directly across or through an object (such as a tree, fence, wall, tunnel, drain or sprinkler head), but is not allowed to measure through ground that naturally slopes up and down.

See Committee Procedures, Section 2I (Committee may choose to allow or require the player to use a dropping zone as a relief area when taking certain relief).

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.

If the player lets go of a ball without intending it to be in play, the ball has not been dropped and is not in play (see Rule 14.4).

Each relief Rule identifies a specific relief area where the ball must be dropped and come to rest.

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

  • Falls straight down, without the player 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 the player’s body or equipment before it hits the ground (see Rule 14.3b).
Relief 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:

  • Reference Point: The point from which the size of relief area is measured.
  • Size of Relief Area Measured from Reference Point: The relief area is either one or two club-lengths from the reference point, but with certain limits:
  • Limits on Location of Relief Area: The location of the relief area may be limited in one or more ways so that, for example:
    • It is only in certain defined areas of the course, such as only in the general area, or not in a bunker or a penalty area,
    • It is not nearer the hole than the reference point or must be outside a penalty area or a bunker from which relief is being taken, or
    • It is where there is no interference (as defined in the particular Rule) from the condition from which relief is being taken.

In using club-lengths to determine the size of a relief area, the player may measure directly across a ditch, hole or similar thing, and directly across or through an object (such as a tree, fence, wall, tunnel, drain or sprinkler head), but is not allowed to measure through ground that naturally slopes up and down.

See Committee Procedures, Section 2I (Committee may choose to allow or require the player to use a dropping zone as a relief area when taking certain relief).

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 the player's option.
  • Spider Webs are loose impediments even though they are attached to another object.

 

Interpretation Loose Impediment/1 - Status of Fruit

Fruit that is detached from its tree or bush is a loose impediment, even if the fruit is from a bush or tree not found on the course.

For example, fruit that has been partially eaten or cut into pieces, and the skin that has been peeled from a piece of fruit are loose impediments. But, when being carried by a player, it is his or her equipment.

Interpretation Loose Impediment/2 - When Loose Impediment Becomes Obstruction

Loose impediments may be transformed into obstructions through the processes of construction or manufacturing.

For example, a log (loose impediment) that has been split and had legs attached has been changed by construction into a bench (obstruction).

Interpretation Loose Impediment/3 - Status of Saliva

Saliva may be treated as either temporary water or a loose impediment, at the option of the player.

Interpretation Loose Impediment/4 - Loose Impediments Used to Surface a Road

Gravel is a loose impediment and a player may remove loose impediments under Rule 15.1a. This right is not affected by the fact that, when a road is covered with gravel, it becomes an artificially surfaced road, making it an immovable obstruction. The same principle applies to roads or paths constructed with stone, crushed shell, wood chips or the like.

In such a situation, the player may:

  • Play the ball as it lies on the obstruction and remove gravel (loose impediment) from the road (Rule 15.1a).
  • Take relief without penalty from the abnormal course condition (immovable obstruction) (Rule 16.1b).

The player may also remove some gravel from the road to determine the possibility of playing the ball as it lies before choosing to take free relief.

Interpretation Loose Impediment/5 - Living Insect Is Never Sticking to a Ball

Although dead insects may be considered to be sticking to a ball, living insects are never considered to be sticking to a ball, whether they are stationary or moving. Therefore, live insects on a ball are loose impediments.

Relief 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:

  • Reference Point: The point from which the size of relief area is measured.
  • Size of Relief Area Measured from Reference Point: The relief area is either one or two club-lengths from the reference point, but with certain limits:
  • Limits on Location of Relief Area: The location of the relief area may be limited in one or more ways so that, for example:
    • It is only in certain defined areas of the course, such as only in the general area, or not in a bunker or a penalty area,
    • It is not nearer the hole than the reference point or must be outside a penalty area or a bunker from which relief is being taken, or
    • It is where there is no interference (as defined in the particular Rule) from the condition from which relief is being taken.

In using club-lengths to determine the size of a relief area, the player may measure directly across a ditch, hole or similar thing, and directly across or through an object (such as a tree, fence, wall, tunnel, drain or sprinkler head), but is not allowed to measure through ground that naturally slopes up and down.

See Committee Procedures, Section 2I (Committee may choose to allow or require the player to use a dropping zone as a relief area when taking certain relief).

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.

If the player lets go of a ball without intending it to be in play, the ball has not been dropped and is not in play (see Rule 14.4).

Each relief Rule identifies a specific relief area where the ball must be dropped and come to rest.

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

  • Falls straight down, without the player 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 the player’s body or equipment before it hits the ground (see Rule 14.3b).
Stroke Play

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

In the regular form of stroke play (see Rule 3.3):

  • A player’s or side’s score for a round is the total number of strokes (including strokes made and any penalty strokes) to hole out on each hole, and
  • The winner is the player or side who completes all rounds in the fewest total strokes.

Other forms of stroke play with different scoring methods are Stableford, Maximum Score and Par/Bogey (see Rule 21).

All forms of stroke play  can be played either in individual competitions (each player competing on his or her own) or in competitions involving sides of partners (Foursomes or Four-Ball).

Putting Green

The area on the hole the player is playing that:

  • Is specially prepared for putting, or
  • The Committee has defined as the putting green (such as when a temporary green is used).

The putting green for a hole contains the hole into which the player tries to play a ball. The putting green is one of the five defined areas of the course. The putting greens for all other holes (which the player is not playing at the time) are wrong greens and part of the general area.

The edge of a putting green is defined by where it can be seen that the specially prepared area starts (such as where the grass has been distinctly cut to show the edge), unless the Committee defines the edge in a different way (such as by using a line or dots).

If a double green is used for two different holes:

  • The entire prepared area containing both holes is treated as the putting green when playing each hole.

But the Committee may define an edge that divides the double green into two different putting greens, so that when a player is playing one of the holes, the part of the double green for the other hole is a wrong green.

Stroke

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

But a stroke has not been made if the player:

  • Decides during the downswing not to strike the ball and avoids doing so by deliberately stopping the clubhead before it reaches the ball or, if unable to stop, by deliberately missing the ball.
  • Accidentally strikes the ball when making a practice swing or while preparing to make a stroke.

When the Rules refer to "playing a ball," it means the same as making a stroke.

The player's score for a hole or a round is described as a number of "strokes" or "strokes taken," which means both all strokes made and any penalty strokes (see Rule 3.1c).

 

Interpretation Stroke/1 - Determining If a Stroke Was Made

If a player starts the downswing with a club intending to strike the ball, his or her action counts as a stroke when:

  • The clubhead is deflected or stopped by an outside influence (such as the branch of a tree) whether or not the ball is struck.
  • The clubhead separates from the shaft during the downswing and the player continues the downswing with the shaft alone, whether or not the ball is struck with the shaft.
  • The clubhead separates from the shaft during the downswing and the player continues the downswing with the shaft alone, with the clubhead falling and striking the ball.

The player's action does not count as a stroke in each of following situations:

  • During the downswing, a player's clubhead separates from the shaft. The player stops the downswing short of the ball, but the clubhead falls and strikes and moves the ball.
  • During the backswing, a player's clubhead separates from the shaft. The player completes the downswing with the shaft but does not strike the ball.
  • A ball is lodged in a tree branch beyond the reach of a club. If the player moves the ball by striking a lower part of the branch instead of the ball, Rule 9.4 (Ball Lifted or Moved by Player) applies.
Stroke Play

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

In the regular form of stroke play (see Rule 3.3):

  • A player’s or side’s score for a round is the total number of strokes (including strokes made and any penalty strokes) to hole out on each hole, and
  • The winner is the player or side who completes all rounds in the fewest total strokes.

Other forms of stroke play with different scoring methods are Stableford, Maximum Score and Par/Bogey (see Rule 21).

All forms of stroke play  can be played either in individual competitions (each player competing on his or her own) or in competitions involving sides of partners (Foursomes or Four-Ball).

Putting Green

The area on the hole the player is playing that:

  • Is specially prepared for putting, or
  • The Committee has defined as the putting green (such as when a temporary green is used).

The putting green for a hole contains the hole into which the player tries to play a ball. The putting green is one of the five defined areas of the course. The putting greens for all other holes (which the player is not playing at the time) are wrong greens and part of the general area.

The edge of a putting green is defined by where it can be seen that the specially prepared area starts (such as where the grass has been distinctly cut to show the edge), unless the Committee defines the edge in a different way (such as by using a line or dots).

If a double green is used for two different holes:

  • The entire prepared area containing both holes is treated as the putting green when playing each hole.

But the Committee may define an edge that divides the double green into two different putting greens, so that when a player is playing one of the holes, the part of the double green for the other hole is a wrong green.

Hole

The finishing point on the putting green for the hole being played:

  • The hole must be 4 ¼ inches (108 mm) in diameter and at least 4 inches (101.6 mm) deep.
  • If a lining is used, its outer diameter must not exceed 4 ¼ inches (108 mm). The lining must be sunk at least 1 inch (25.4 mm) below the putting green surface, unless the nature of the soil requires that it be closer to the surface.

The word “hole” (when not used as a Definition in italics) is used throughout the Rules to mean the part of the course associated with a particular teeing area, putting green and hole. Play of a hole begins from the teeing area and ends when the ball is holed on the putting green (or when the Rules otherwise say the hole is completed).

 

Hole

The finishing point on the putting green for the hole being played:

  • The hole must be 4 ¼ inches (108 mm) in diameter and at least 4 inches (101.6 mm) deep.
  • If a lining is used, its outer diameter must not exceed 4 ¼ inches (108 mm). The lining must be sunk at least 1 inch (25.4 mm) below the putting green surface, unless the nature of the soil requires that it be closer to the surface.

The word “hole” (when not used as a Definition in italics) is used throughout the Rules to mean the part of the course associated with a particular teeing area, putting green and hole. Play of a hole begins from the teeing area and ends when the ball is holed on the putting green (or when the Rules otherwise say the hole is completed).

 

Stroke

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

But a stroke has not been made if the player:

  • Decides during the downswing not to strike the ball and avoids doing so by deliberately stopping the clubhead before it reaches the ball or, if unable to stop, by deliberately missing the ball.
  • Accidentally strikes the ball when making a practice swing or while preparing to make a stroke.

When the Rules refer to "playing a ball," it means the same as making a stroke.

The player's score for a hole or a round is described as a number of "strokes" or "strokes taken," which means both all strokes made and any penalty strokes (see Rule 3.1c).

 

Interpretation Stroke/1 - Determining If a Stroke Was Made

If a player starts the downswing with a club intending to strike the ball, his or her action counts as a stroke when:

  • The clubhead is deflected or stopped by an outside influence (such as the branch of a tree) whether or not the ball is struck.
  • The clubhead separates from the shaft during the downswing and the player continues the downswing with the shaft alone, whether or not the ball is struck with the shaft.
  • The clubhead separates from the shaft during the downswing and the player continues the downswing with the shaft alone, with the clubhead falling and striking the ball.

The player's action does not count as a stroke in each of following situations:

  • During the downswing, a player's clubhead separates from the shaft. The player stops the downswing short of the ball, but the clubhead falls and strikes and moves the ball.
  • During the backswing, a player's clubhead separates from the shaft. The player completes the downswing with the shaft but does not strike the ball.
  • A ball is lodged in a tree branch beyond the reach of a club. If the player moves the ball by striking a lower part of the branch instead of the ball, Rule 9.4 (Ball Lifted or Moved by Player) applies.
Hole

The finishing point on the putting green for the hole being played:

  • The hole must be 4 ¼ inches (108 mm) in diameter and at least 4 inches (101.6 mm) deep.
  • If a lining is used, its outer diameter must not exceed 4 ¼ inches (108 mm). The lining must be sunk at least 1 inch (25.4 mm) below the putting green surface, unless the nature of the soil requires that it be closer to the surface.

The word “hole” (when not used as a Definition in italics) is used throughout the Rules to mean the part of the course associated with a particular teeing area, putting green and hole. Play of a hole begins from the teeing area and ends when the ball is holed on the putting green (or when the Rules otherwise say the hole is completed).

 

In Play

The status of a player’s ball when it lies on the course and is being used in the play of a hole:

  • A ball first becomes in play on a hole:
    • When the player makes a stroke at it from inside the teeing area, or
    • In match play, when the player makes a stroke at it from outside the teeing area and the opponent does not cancel the stroke under Rule 6.1b.
  • That ball remains in play until it is holed, except that it is no longer in play:
    • When it is lifted from the course,
    • When it is lost (even if it is at rest on the course) or comes to rest out of bounds, or
    • When another ball has been substituted for it, even if not allowed by a Rule.

A ball that is not in play is a wrong ball.

The player cannot have more than one ball in play at any time. (See Rule 6.3d for the limited cases when a player may play more than one ball at the same time on a hole.)

When the Rules refer to a ball at rest or in motion, this means a ball that is in play.

When a ball-marker is in place to mark the spot of a ball in play:

  • If the ball has not been lifted, it is still in play, and
  • If the ball has been lifted and replaced, it is in play even if the ball-marker has not been removed.
Opponent

The person a player competes against in a match. The term opponent applies only in match play.