Let’s have some fun with “loose impediments” and see what we know, don’t know, and what we should do.
1. Our ball is on the fairway surrounded by little pieces of cut grass. We think, “Thank goodness they’ve finally mowed the rough!” We remove them from around the ball, and also remove one piece that’s stuck on our ball.
Penalty or no penalty?
Answer. No penalty for removing the grass around the ball BUT a one stroke penalty for removing the grass adhering to the ball.
Decision 21/2 says that anything “adhering to the ball” is not a loose impediment. The grass is a loose impediment when it’s on the ground, not when it’s on your ball.
2. Your ball is on the fringe of the green and before you make your next stroke you remove some twigs, leaves, loose soil and sand from around your ball. Penalty or no penalty?
No penalty for removing the twigs and leaves as they are loose impediments.
You get a TWO STROKE penalty for removing the loose soil and sand. They are only “loose impediments” when on the green, not the fringe. You improved your lie, area of intended stance, swing or line of play, Rule 13-2.
3. Now you’re on the putting green. You mark and lift your ball and, on your line of play, there’s some sand and loose soil. Can you remove them, or will it be a two stroke penalty again?
. Here on the putting green sand or loose soils ARE loose impediments so you can remove them. Rule 16-1(i)
Go figure who decided this, and what do they have against loose soil and sand anyway?
4. Your ball lies on the fairway and a live insect is on your ball, can you remove it?
Yes, because unlike the grass in question #1, it is not considered to be adhering to your ball because it has legs and can walk, yikes, and therefore is a “loose impediment”.
BUT if your ball moves while removing the pesky critter you get a one stroke penalty and have to replace your ball. If you don’t replace it a two stroke penalty is added to your score.
5. Same ball, same insect, now in a bunker. Can you remove the insect?
NO. He was loose impediment in the fairway but he’s now in the bunker and you cannot remove loose impediments when in a bunker.
However as he is capable of moving on its own you may wave your hand over it, or blow on it to encourage it to fly away. If you remove the insect with your fingers you will be penalized TWO STROKES under Rule 13-4c.
I hope this helps you.