Loose Impediments Knowing the definition of a loose impediment will assist you
When your ball lies on the putting green, you may move loose impediments without restriction. You may even touch your line with your hand directly.
By Ryan Gregg, Director of Education and Rules
in using the Rules of Golf to your advantage and avoiding penalties.
oose impediments are natural objects such
as stones, leaves, twigs, branches, dung, worms, insects and the like as long as they are not fixed, solidly embedded, growing or adhering to the ball. Be aware that under the rules, sand and loose soil are loose impediments on the putting green, but not elsewhere; snow and natural ice, other than frost, are either casual water or loose impediments at the option of the player. Dew and frost are not loose impediments. During the 2012 Abu Dhabi Cham- pionship, Rory McIlroy brushed away loose sand when his ball and the sand rested in an area through the green, an action that cost him two penalty strokes. The Rules of Golf treat loose impediments a bit differently depending on where your golf ball lies on the course.
When your ball lies on the teeing ground, you may move loose impediments without restriction and if your ball moves, there is no penalty. Since the ball was not in play, you are not required to replace the ball
When your ball lies in a hazard, you are not entitled to move a loose impediment.
in its original location. When your ball lies
through the green, you may move loose impedi- ments without restriction. However, if your ball moves in the process of moving the loose impediments,
you incur a penalty of one stroke and must replace the ball in its original location. Decision 23-1/3 permits you to receive assistance when moving a large loose impediment. Tiger Woods at the 1999 Phoenix Open had assistance in moving a large loose impediment that caused some controversy. However, the decision was in place long before Tiger’s ball came to rest near that rock. When your ball lies in a
hazard (bunker, water haz- ard or lateral water hazard) you are not entitled to touch or move loose impediments. However, if you cannot see your ball in a hazard, you are entitled to move as many loose impediments as will allow you to find your ball. If your ball is moved in the process of searching for it, you incur a one-stroke penalty and must replace the ball. In the 2012 PGA