USGA Rules Explained: Movable and Immovable Obstructions

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Obstructions on the golf course can be a cause for anxiety, frustration and, oftentimes, unwanted added strokes. In an average round, a golfer may encounter any number of movable and immovable obstructions, and without a good grasp of the USGA rules in relation to relief from these obstructions, they may end up tacking on unnecessary strokes when attempting to pick up and replace their golf ball.

The USGA Rules are filled with exceptions and stipulations when it comes to stroke penalties, and it’s important to understand what the USGA rules have to say about common situations such as obstructions. So in this lesson, we walk you through some of the standard situations golfers might find themselves in as it relates to obstructions, and teach you how to make decisions for justified relief and movement of a golf ball away from both movable and immovable obstructions.

How and when to move your ball according to the USGA rules

To help you figure out when you’re allowed to take relief from an obstruction on the golf course in accordance with the USGA rules, Mark Wilson of the PGA Rules Committee introduces several situations that involve obstructions and shows you how you should handle each. He explains what defines movable and immovable obstructions, and tells you what to look for when assessing the situation for your ball or a playing partner’s.

You’ll learn what USGA rules deem is a valid reason for removing obstructions such as bunker rakes and manmade objects, and discover the importance of marking your ball prior to taking away said obstructions. You’ll also learn about some of the exceptions for dealing with an immovable obstruction, including a ball stuck at the base of a tree that sits next to a cart path. You’ll have to consult the USGA rules when dealing with these types of scenarios, as different rules will come into play. Understand what you can do in accordance with USGA rules, and you won’t have to worry about incurring penalties!

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