Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Immovable Obstructions on the Putting Green

I was giving a presentation on the Rules of Golf last week when the subject of artificial hole plugs was brought up. The first point for me to make is that Rule 16-1c permits a player to repair a hole plug, whether it is a natural plug of earth or an artificial plug (usually plastic) and this is permitted whether or not their ball lies on the putting green. The second, more important point that I want to make is that artificial hole plugs are by definition, immovable obstructions. The consequence of this is that when a player’s ball lies on the putting surface they may not only take relief from the artificial plug hole if it interferes with their lie, stance or area of intended swing, but may also take line of putt relief under this part of Rule 24-2a - Immovable Obstructions;
If the player's ball lies on the putting green, interference also occurs if an immovable obstruction on the putting green intervenes on his line of putt.
The procedure for taking relief is found in Rule 24-2b(iii);
If the ball lies on the putting green, the player must lift the ball and place it, without penalty, at the nearest point of relief that is not in a hazard. The nearest point of relief may be off the putting green.
Note that this is similar to the relief that is available in circumstances where there is casual water on the putting green between where a player’s ball lies on the putting surface and the hole, Rule 25-1b(iii).

Of course, there may be another type of immovable obstruction encountered on a putting green, most commonly wire netting, which has been installed by a greenkeeper to protect a newly renovated area, usually following animal or machinery damage to the putting surface. Very occasionally, on large putting greens, there may be sprinkler heads actually located on the putting surface, in which case the same line of putt relief option would apply.

Distance Measuring Devices
There still seems to be some confusion over the use of distance measuring devices (DMDs), where they are permitted by a Local Rule. Yes, you can now use an iPhone for measuring distances only, as the ban on taking a compass on the course was removed in January 2014. The USGA has a very useful infographic on the subject at this link.

Good golfing,

Have you visited my web site at http://www.RhodesRulesSchool.com ?

The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2015 and may not be copied without permission.


Ed said...

Regarding Distance Measuring Devices, it would appear to me that their infographic is misleading, as it does not address decision 14-3/4 Use of Compass During Round. The infographic appears to disallow use of an iPhone if it had a compass application INSTALLED, even if not used. The www.usga.org/dmd FAQ (at the top of that page) does have valuable information, but also fails to address use of a compass.

Barry Rhodes said...


Some iPhones have an inbuilt compass feature that cannot be disabled. These were not permitted until Decision 14-3/4 was introduced in January 2014. However, if a player downloads a compass only application (why?), in my opinion, it would not assist the player in his play (because compasses are permitted) and would therefore not breach the Rule.