Rules Guy: Are large stones around a pond considered loose impediments?

A view of water on a golf course

The Rules of Golf are tricky! Thankfully, we’ve got the guru. Our Rules Guy knows the book front to back. Got a question? He’s got all the answers.

My home course has large rocks bordering several ponds, and my ball came to rest about two inches from some of these rocks, which are loose and easily moved. Question: Can they be treated as loose impediments and moved without penalty, or are they considered part of a hazard and must be left undisturbed? There are no red lines marking a hazard boundary. —Ted Staroscik, Darien, IL

Rules Guy: Can you replace a loose impediment that was removed by your playing partner?
By: Rules Guy

As long as the rocks are easily movable — by you, not a backhoe — they are in fact considered loose impediments. Under Rule 15.1, they can be moved, whether they’re inside, outside or defining a penalty area, or anywhere else, under the most recent revision. So you can rock-and-roll on rolling the rocks! (Or just lift them….)

For more loose-impediment guidance from our guru, read on …

So I was recently playing with a buddy of mine at a heavily treed course in West Virginia. When we got to the first green, he pulled a very small electric leaf blower from his cart and proceeded to carefully clear leaves, grains of sand, dead insects and anything else along his putting line. The rest of us obviously questioned this practice; he was adamant that it was within the rules. But if it was an allowable practice, Tour players would surely do it, wouldn’t they? —Joseph D. Shuffleton, Sterling, VA

Tour pros and caddies, look away! Okay, loyal readers, now that it’s just us, Rules Guy informs you that, under Rule 15.1a, loose impediments may be removed by any means. Which is to say, a leaf blower is a permissible way to remove loose impediments.

And just so you all know, I recently returned from the Patent and Trademark Office, where I secured exclusive rights to the “Line of Putt Loose Impediment Leaf Sweeper®.” Thoughts?

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