RULE: Movable or Immovable Obstruction?

What's the difference between movable and immovable? What is the status of the stakes and ropes, directional signs and hoops around the course?

Have a look at the illustration and tell me!

Now you tell me - are these hoops and signs that direct cart traffic around the course movable or immovable? Obviously I can move them - but am I permitted to do so under the rules? Can I obtain any relief from these if my ball is A, B, or C?

A does not interfere with my line of play, my stance or swing - but it does psychologically! B is on my line of play, but I could chip over it and onto the green. But C I reckon it interferes on all three counts - line of play, stance & swing and psychologically! (I'm a real mess!)

What does the rule book say?

Firstly Definitions in the new Rule Book defines "obstruction" as "any artificial object except for integral objects and boundary objects."

But when is it movable? Can you accept assistance to move an obstruction that one person alone could not move??

The rules tell us a movable obstruction is "an obstruction that can be moved without unreasonable effort and without damaging the obstruction or the course."

And the rules define immovable obstruction as "any obstruction that cannot be moved without unreasonable effort or without damaging the obstruction or the course, and otherwise does not meet the definition of a movable obstruction."

Note however, the Committee may make a local rule declaring a movable obstruction to be an immovable obstruction.

Well, what about these ropes, hoops and signs? To eliminate any confusion, our local rules printed on the score card make it clear:

  • that the temporary posts and ropes, are IMMOVABLE OBSTRUCTIONS.
  • but the hoops and cart signs are MOVABLE OBSTRUCTIONS

So after all that ..... RULE 16 - Relief from Immovable Obstructions informs us. You can get free relief from these immovable obstructions, the stakes and ropes.   

It does not matter which ball is yours (A, B or C) - movable obstructions can be moved. (There is an exception here under Rule 11.3 - when your ball is in motion, you cannot move or lift any movable obstruction to affect where that ball, whether yours or another player's ball might come to rest).

There are conditions re area of swing, stance, and line of play; but there is no such thing in the rules of golf as psychological influence for immovable obstructions - don't try that defence for seeking free relief from the immovable obstruction! Check out Rule 16.1a for when relief is allowed - the accompanying diagrams are instructional!

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