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Removing Loose Impediments

I have been asked to clarify how loose impediments may be removed, a subject that I am aware can cause many arguments between fellow golfers. As a great believer in the use of questions and answers to test one’s knowledge of the Rules I am posing these 10 quick questions on the subject. Answer either Yes or No.

1.       May a player use a towel to remove loose impediments on the putting green?

2.      May a player use the back of their hand to remove loose impediments through the green?

3.      May a player remove sand lying on the putting green?

4.      Does a player incur a penalty for removing loose soil around their ball through the green?

5.      May a player use the head of their putter to remove loose impediments from their line of putt?

6.      If a player moves their ball while removing a leaf lying by their ball on the putting green may they replace the ball without penalty?

7.      May a player use a brush to remove loose impediments on the putting green?

8.      Is a player is penalised for removing a loose impediment from a hazard?

9.      Does a player incur a penalty for moving a loose impediment that might influence the movement of a ball that is in motion?

10.  Is a player penalised for pressing down on their line of putt while removing loose impediments?

Did you correctly answer, “Yes”, to all 10 questions? It is Rule 23 that deals with loose impediments and any breaches incur the general penalty of two strokes in stroke play, or loss of hole in match play. Note that there is no penalty for causing your ball to move while removing a loose impediment on the putting green, but there is anywhere else (Rule 18-2a). Please do not deduce from the above that the suggestion is that golfers should carry a brush in their bag to remove loose impediments. In fact, using a brush for this purpose other than on the putting green would almost certainly incur a penalty, as sand and loose soil are only loose impediments on the putting green and must not be moved at the same time that loose impediments are being removed elsewhere. The brush illustration is used to reinforce the principle that loose impediments may be removed by any means, except that, in removing loose impediments on the line of putt, the player must not press anything down. Decision 23-1/1 is the reference;

Q. Worm casts are loose impediments. By what means may such casts be removed?A. Loose impediments may be removed by any means, except that, in removing loose impediments on the line of putt, the player must not press anything down (Rule 16-1a).