RULE: Immovable Obstruction

The ruling on immovable obstruction such as the protective screen fence behind the tenth green is often the topic of a vigorous discussion heard in the bar. Do I get just 'stance and swing' relief, or 'line of sight' relief as well?

If you are permitted under the Rule 16 to some relief, where can you play from?

 

First you decide what interference is in this situation: interference occurs when

  • your ball lies in or on the obstruction; or
  • when the screen (obstruction) interferes with your intended stance or the area of your intended swing.

Interference on your line of play is not of itself interference under Rule 16.

Have a look at this photo and determine which balls suffer interference from the screen (for a right hand player).

Answer: the only balls which are entitled to relief are balls A, C and E. You will not be able to take your stance whichever way you face. Ball A - the screen interferes with your stance; Ball E - the screen interferes with both your stance and your area of intended swing: Ball C the screen interferes with your area of intended swing, but not your stance.

A player may argue a case for relief for Ball B, saying that the screen interferes on his/her line to the flag. Line of sight is NOT interference. The player can still take a stance, and swing at the ball - s/he can still hit the ball, but just not towards the green/flag unless with a lob over the fence. Assuming the path does not interfere with the player's stance, NO RELIEF ALLOWED for Ball B under this rule!

No relief is due for Ball D either, as the player can take a stance and complete a swing at ball D without any interference from the screen. 

O.K. - you have decided which balls (A, C and E) are entitled to relief. Where can you now drop which avoids interference from the screen?

Secondly, you must lift and drop the ball, without penalty, in a relief area within one clublength of and no nearer the hole than the nearest point of complete relief (now called the reference point). The ball must strike the ground within this defined relief area, and remain in this area at a spot which avoids interference from the screen.

Ball A: the nearest point of complete relief is at X, and the relief area for relief under the rule is marked as the shaded area. Obviously some of these spots do not give relief from the obstruction.

Ball C: the nearest point of relief is at Y, with the allowed drop area shaded. Again, not all spots within the "one club length" provide relief

Ball E: Maybe you would be better off playing the ball as it lay, and putting under the screen if that is possible! However, you may also determine the nearest point of complete relief, and drop within one clublength of that point.

P.S.Questions!

What if the dropped ball rolls onto the path or to a spot where you must stand on the path? If the dropped ball rolls more than the one club length, finishing out of the defined relief area? Check out Rule 14 for the decision!

Can I use any club to measure the "one club length"? See the Note under "Definitions - Club-Length".
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