18th @Brokenhurst – Loose Impediments and Divots

The 18th is another of Harry Colt’s great short Par 4’s. Two good shots and you are looking for a birdie, but one bad shot and a bogey can be a good score. It is now a long carry for many golfers over a ditch and heathery bank on to the fairway with a lone bunker on the left. A stand of pine trees (which may not have been in there when the course was laid out, but add a significant challenge to the hole) may well block out an approach from the right hand side if you are too far up the fairway. While it is only a short shot in, the green is long and contoured and well protected by deep bunkers at the front and on both sides – anything missing the green and the bunkers will be drawn away from the green by the contours. Due to the deep bunker at the front, you can’t see the bottom of the flag from the fairway and it is at least 2 clubs difference from front to back. (A tip is to check out the pin position when on the 1st tee). Low handicappers will probably be thinking birdie on the tee, but it has brought some to tears after finishing with a 6.

My drive has landed in amongst some leaves and old divots, so the lie doesn’t look too good. These unattached (i.e. they can be moved easily) natural objects are defined as “Loose Impediments” and they do not form part of the lie of the ball – this means that I can remove them anywhere on (or off!) the course – so this is possible in a penalty area or bunker, as well as on the tee, green, or in the general area. However I must be careful as I will be penalised 1 stroke if the ball moves and must then replace it on its original spot (if I don’t do this the penalty would become 2 strokes or loss of hole for playing from the wrong place).

Some other things to be careful of:

  • A divot which is roots down and more than 50% in a divot hole is considered to have been “replaced” and is therefore part of the ground and NOT a loose impediment. As it is part of the ground you may not alter its position (e.g. by tapping it down) if it may impact your lie, stance, or line of play.
  • Sand, loose soil, dew, frost, and water are NOT loose impediments
  • Snow and natural ice can be either a loose impediment or (when on the ground) temporary water at the player’s discretion
  • Spiders webs are loose impediments, despite being attached to other objects
  • Fruit is a loose impediment except when being carried by a player in which case it is part of their equipment!

2 thoughts on “18th @Brokenhurst – Loose Impediments and Divots

  1. Hi When there’s a heavy frost, it often sticks to players soles and comes off in clumps of frost on the putting greens, making it unfair unless moved. – Can this be classed as a loose impediment?

    Your comments would be appreciated.

    Thank you Bob

    Sent from my iPhone



    1. Hi Bob
      I suspect that the reason for excluding dew and frost from the definition of loose impediments is that a course would be otherwise be unplayable early in the morning. My feeling is that the clumps coming off your shoes would be “ice” rather than “frost” so would then be removable. A further question is whether this ice is “natural” (in which case it would be a loose impediment), or man made (in which case it would be a movable obstruction). Only difference is when you are not on the green and the ball moves in the action of removing said lump of ice. I’ll refer to a few other referees for further opinions on this.
      Kind regards


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