by Fred DeCasperis
Nick and Wayne are playing a match in their golf league and both hit their drives on the first hole. When Nick arrived at his ball he noticed that it had landed about six inches from a sprinkler head. He took his practice swing and had a clear path to the green.
Nick set up to hit his shot, but then backed off. He turned to Wayne and said, “The sprinkler head is in my line of vision when I prepare to swing. Since it is an immovable obstruction I believe I’m entitled to get one club length relief as long as I don’t go closer to the hole.” Wayne replied, “I’m not sure you can do that.”
Is Nick entitled to relief?
Rule 24 deals with obstructions and section 24-2a states, “Interference by an immovable obstruction occurs when a ball lies in or on the obstruction, or when the obstruction interferes with the player’s stance or the area of his intended swing.”
Since neither Nick’s swing nor stance was impeded by the sprinkler head he is not entitled to relief in this situation. Even though the sprinkler head may be somewhat distracting, he must hit the shot as it lies.
However, it is interesting to note that if it was Wayne’s ball in his line of vision rather than the sprinkler head, Nick could ask that the ball be marked.