Golf Rule 23-1: Loose Impediments

Knowing the rules of golf could result in a hole in one; only if you understand and apply them properly. This famous picture has made its way around the social media circles recently with the question if the ball is in the hole or not.

In the hole or not? Knowing the rules of golf could result in a hole in one!

As a fledgling rules official, I thought I would give it a try.Before I give you my answer, I think hearing from the Aussie Golfer would set the stage for a differing of opinions. Basically, the Aussie Golfer says it is not in the hole and according to rule  Rule 16-2 Ball Overhanging Hole this ball would be assessed an additional stroke because the came to rest on a previous stroke.

I actually thought that the rule 23-1 Loose Impediments was more applicable. After removing the twig (on the green) and replacing the ball, it would fall into the hole. Because the loose impediment forced the ball to move (in this case stop moving) then the ball on the green can be replace without penalty.

After a bit more research, Aussie Golfer comes to the rescue. As it turns out the R&A has ruled on this very picture (which turns out to be fake):

“It is a very rare situation, but The R&A received a similar question 30 years ago. The answer given, which we would still apply, was as follows: On the putting green, if the player’s removal of a loose impediment causes the ball to move, the ball is replaced without penalty. As replacement of the ball would be impossible in this case, in equity (Rule 1-4), the ball is considered to be holed with the previous stroke.”

As you can see, the application of the rules is very important. Can you imagine if the above situation happened on a par 3 and you accepted a stroke penalty for a birdie. Your first (or one of many) hole in one was taken away because you did not know the rules. If nothing else, this situation might be incentive to read a bit about the rules we should know.


I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!


4 thoughts on “Golf Rule 23-1: Loose Impediments

  1. Well, I’ve never seen that, but I do remember telling you about someone not replacing the flag properly. The ball hung over he hole similarly and touching the flag was enough for the ball to drop. It wasn’t a tournament though. And I took the eagle for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

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