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