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Rules of Golf

The USGA, in conjunction with The R&A in St. Andrews, Scotland, writes, interprets and maintains the Rules of Golf to guard the tradition and integrity of the game.The two organizations are joint authors and owners of The Rules of Golf and Decisions on the Rules of Golf.Through an agreement with The R&A, the Rules jurisdiction of the USGA includes only the United States, its possessions and Mexico.The latest version went into effect Jan. 1, 2012, with the next revision taking effect Jan. 1, 2016.

Golf Rule 23 - Loose Impediments

LOOSE IMPEDIMENTS: The first thing you must know is what constitutes a Loose Impediment. The definition of a loose impediment: they are natural objects that are not fixed, solidly embedded, growing, or adhering to the ball.

*Things like leaves, twigs, stones, insects, and similar objects are loose impediments. A live insect may be removed from a ball because it wouldn't be considering adhering to it.
*Sand and loose soil are only loose impediments while on the putting green.*Natural ice and snow are either loose impediments or casual water at the player's option.
*Manufactured ice is an obstruction.


EXCEPTIONS: A loose impediment may not be moved, removed, or touched if (i) both the loose impediment and ball lie in or touch the same hazard. Example, you cannot remove a pine cone behind your ball from a bunker. (ii) While a ball is in motion, you cannot move a loose impediment that may effect or influence the movememt of the ball. Example, you cannot remove a stone in the way of a moving ball. (iii) Other than on the putting green, if a player's ball moves after a loose impediment within one club length of the ball has been moved or even touched by the player, the ball must be replaced with the player incurring a one stroke penalty.

PENALTY: for moving a loose impediment when not permitted LOSS OF HOLE--MATCH PLAY; TWO-STROKES--STROKE PLAY.

NOTE--there is no penalty if the ball moves while on the putting green when removing a loose impediment, the ball must be replaced.