This particular rule has changed play since it was refined in the 2019 new golf rules release. Basically, any player can remove a loose impediment through the green; so this includes hazards. This is a break from the previous rules and for the most part, I think this is a good change and will help many players improve their game. Specifically, I want to talk about what constitutes a loose impediment. Because history shows that this definition can be applied in very loose contexts.
First, here is the exact wording from the golf rule book relating to 15.1a Removal of Loose Impediment.
Without penalty, a player may remove a loose impediment anywhere on or off the course, and may do so in any way (such as by using a hand or foot or a club or other equipment). Seems pretty straight forward right. Basically, any player can move a loose impediment if it is in their way. However, there was this famous incident with Tiger Woods in the 1999 Phoenix Open:
The question I have with the above situation is this: was that boulder really an loose impediment? If it takes 10 people to move this stone, is it considered loose? I guess the discuss could be considered moot, however I think that the the following should be added to rules:
Without penalty, a player without help from another person may remove a loose impediment anywhere on or off the course, and may do so in any way (such as by using a hand or foot or a club or other equipment).
I think that this is a legitimate addition because if the loose impediment is so large or heavy that the player cannot move it on their own; then I would not consider that a loose impediment. I realize that I am likely in the minority, however having 10 people move a boulder seems to stretch rule 15.1a to its breaking point. Having said that, I do applaud Tiger Woods use of the rules to his benefit, but think it does not follow the intent or spirit of the rule.
What do you think? Was Tiger Woods’ use of rule 15.1a legit?
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!