Definition of the Week: Loose Impediments
Definition of the Week:  Loose Impediments


Loose Impediments


Loose impediments are natural objects including:

  • Stones, leaves, twigs, branches and the like
  • Dung
  • Worms, insects and the like, and the casts and heaps made by them,  provided they are not:

- Fixed or growing
- Solidly embedded
- Adhering to the ball.

Sand and loose soil are loose impediments on the putting green, but not elsewhere.

Snow and natural ice, other than frost, are either casual water or loose impediments, at the option of the player.

Dew and frost are not loose impediments.


The key word in this definition is in the opening line, “natural objects”. Therefore anything manmade would not fit under this definition and thus is not a loose impediment.  


Hazards: While the definition of loose impediments still applies and is true, if the player’s ball lies IN a hazard (water hazard, lateral water hazard or bunker) the player must NOT touch or move any loose impediment lying in or touching the SAME hazard.

On the Putting Green ONLY: Sand and loose soil are loose impediments and may be removed. Also, if your ball or ball-marker accidentally moved in the process of removing a loose impediment and the movement of the ball or ball-marker is DIRECTLY ATTRIBUTABLE to the removal of the loose impediment – there is no penalty and the ball or ball-marker must be replaced.

Please note, while these are two situations regarding Loose Impediments, there are numerous others. Please refer to the References below for more examples and details regarding Loose Impediments.     


 Rule 23 and its decision in The Decisions on The Rules of Golf.


Which of the following would be considered a loose impediment?

A leaf that is adhering to your ball in a bunker
A soda can in the bunker when your ball lies outside the bunker
A bee that is sitting on your ball in the fairway
A partially removed divot that is still attached to the ground


Faculty Bio


The AJGA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the overall growth and development of young men and women who aspire to earn college golf scholarships through competitive junior golf.

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