Let’s have some fun with a “loose impediments “quiz and see what we know and don’t know.
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 we also remove one piece that’s stuck on our ball. The ball does not move. 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. Rule 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.
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.
But a TWO STROKE penalty for removing the loose soil and sand, because here they are not “loose impediments.” You improved your lie, area of intended stance, swing or line of play. Rule 13-2.
Now you’re on the putting green. You mark your ball and, on your line of play, there’s some sand and loose soil. Can you remove them, or will it be another two stroke penalty?
Answer. Here on the putting green sand and loose soils ARE loose impediments so you can remove them. Rule 16-1
Go figure who decided this, and what DO they have against loose soil and sand eh?
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 as it has legs and can walk 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 your ball moves and you don’t replace it it’s a two stroke penalty.
Same ball, same insect, now in a bunker. Can you remove the insect?
NO. Even though he/she is a loose impediment it is “in the bunker” and it’s forbidden to move loose impediments in a bunker.
However, as it is capable of moving on its own you may wave your hand over it, or blow on it to encourage it to fly away on its own. If you remove the insect with your fingers you will be penalized TWO STROKES under Rule 13-4c.
I hope this helps you.