Artificial objects on the course which cannot be moved without unreasonable effort (such as bridges, roads, and buildings) are “Immovable Obstructions” (a type of “Abnormal Course Condition”) unless they have been defined under the local rules as “integral parts of the course”. You may take relief under Rule 16 from these Immovable Obstructions if they physically interfere with the lie of your ball, your stance, or your area of intended swing. A couple of provisos though:
- The artificial object does not define a boundary of the course (perhaps a white post, fence, or path edging) – these are known as “boundary objects” and you may neither move them or get relief from them.
- Your ball is not in a penalty area
- Your stance and area of intended swing must be for a reasonable stroke
- It is not clearly unreasonable to attempt to play your ball where it is
You do not get “line of sight” or “line of play” relief for an immovable obstruction, or relief if you are simply worried or distracted due to its proximity.
Note that relief is allowed anywhere on the course except when your ball is in a penalty area, so even if the immovable obstruction is in the penalty area, you can get relief as long as your ball is outside it.
You don’t have to take relief, but if you do it must be COMPLETE RELIEF i.e. the object must no longer physically interfere with the lie of your ball, your stance, or your area of intended swing – for the stroke that you originally intended to make. You must find the nearest point of this complete relief which is not nearer the hole and is in the same area of the course as your ball. You may then drop the ball in the relief area which provides complete relief; is within 1 club length of; and is not nearer the hole than this point.
Please also remember that this complete relief is from the immovable obstruction – it does not guarantee that you will be able to play the ball from your relief area (it might be in thick deep rough). Your best option may be to play the ball as it lies or take penalty relief using the unplayable ball rule.