Rules: Tiger’s Loose Impediment Ruling In 1999


Thanks to Skratch TV, we throw it back to 1999 the Phoenix Open where Tiger Woods received the famous “loose impediment” ruling. After pulling his tee shot into the desert to the left of 13, his ball ended up being stuck behind a rock boulder.

While determining his options, Tiger asked a logical, yet brilliant question. Was this rock considered a moveable object? The rules official deemed the one-ton rock as such, allowing Tiger to call over some of his fans to attempt to move it under Rule 23

23-1. Relief

Except when both the loose impediment and the ball lie in or touch the same hazard, any loose impediment may be removed without penalty.

If the ball lies anywhere other than on the putting green and the removal of a loose impediment by the player causes the ball to move, Rule 18-2 applies.


In case you were wondering what qualifies as a loose impediment, the USGA provides this definition:

“Loose impediments” are natural objects, including stones, leaves, twigs, branches and the like, dung, and worms, insects and the like, and the casts and heaps made by them provided they are not fixed or growing, solidly embedded, or adhering to the ball.

15-20 men volunteered, and after a couple tries they found their footing and were able to will it out of the way. Tiger didn’t even have to lift a finger and went on to make one of the more unlikely birdies of his career.




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