Immovable obstructions are artificial objects that are on the course for a good reason but aren’t meant to interfere with the playing of our game. If an immovable obstruction interferes with your lie, stance and/or swing then you’re eligible for free relief.
In this video, SwingU instructor Josh Kelley explains rule 16-1.
- Determine if the obstruction is artificial and not designed to interfere with your play, e.g., cart paths, sprinkler heads, control boxes, etc.
- Determine if the immovable obstruction interferes with at least one of the following: stance, lie or swing.
- If it interferes with at least one of the above, then determine the nearest point of relief and drop within one club-length, no closer to the hole.
- If the obstruction is in your line but does not affect your stance, lie or swing, then the golfer is not eligible for relief.
Note: there is no rule for free line of sight or line of play relief. The rules committee may enact a local rule that allows for line of sight relief from immovable instructions, but as far as the Rules of Golf are concerned, there is no free relief granted.
People often confuse this rule because of what they see on television and pros receiving drops from Temporary Immovable Obstructions (scoreboards, grandstands, television towers). The rules for TIO are different than immovable obstructions.