Rule 15.1a – Removal of Loose Impediment

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!


4 thoughts on “Rule 15.1a – Removal of Loose Impediment

  1. Jim, Tiger’s move was legal because he found a rules official that let him do it. So by the same logic, if I hit my ball in the woods next to a dead tree that has fallen over and I find ten guys to lift and move it, it’s legal? Wrong decision IMO. The only way he gets relief is if someone had stacked boulders there and the area was considered GUR. I don’t recall if that was the decision made but that boulder was not a loose impediment.




  2. Nope. A rule is a rule. From now on, I’m carrying a crane in my bag. I think that qualifies as “other equipment”. 😂 Gotta save the old back. 😂

    Still windy and cool out today, but not quite what it was yesterday and my game showed it. Especially my putting. I was dropping almost everything. Including a side hill putt from 15 feet that turned at least 4 feet and would have run right off the green and kept on going had it missed on #9. I just felt no fear at all by that time and slammed the back of the cup almost hard enough to carry over. Good thing too, because the rest of the game was a little flaky. Still haven’t gotten used to the layers but I did a bit better on that score today and the problems I was having with it the day before weren’t quite as bad though still showing up on occasion. I pulled the first couple of woods I hit and miss hit I think 3 irons off the tee. And my chipping was too tentative today. You’ld think with the confidence I felt with my putter that wouldn’t be the case, but it was. So the putter saved my butt a few times as well as giving me a few nice birdies and a 10 foot eagle from two feet short of the green to finish off the day. Just 23 putts on the day with one 0 putt hole where I chipped in for a par after sculling a pitch shot past the hole and back into the rough.

    Tomorrow we play a course I have mixed feelings over. I really am not a fan of their greens, but, my best scores have generally been taken there. The course sets up well for me and I’ve played it hundreds of times over the years so I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do out there tomorrow. Especially since the temps are supposed to be warm enough again to lose the layers.


    • Kevin

      A hot putter saves every round; only 23 putts, that is awesome. My lower rounds generally have me putting around 25 or 26 times. The flat stick definitely is a stroke saver. Good luck on the other course today!

      Cheers Jim


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