Rule of the Month: Movers and Shakers | Oregon Golf Association

Rule of the Month: Movers and Shakers

By OGA Senior Rules Officials: Pete Scholz and Terry McEvilly
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Movers and Shakers

While in today’s world movers and shakers are often admired, such may not always be the case on the golf course as being a mover and shaker during a round often time leaves the player with a penalty. It can all be a bit confusing as, another golfer, in what may appear to be a similar situation, is allowed to move something without the fear of penalty. Because consulting the Rules of Golf booklet prior to moving an object is time consuming and not very practical, it is imperative to know which objects may be moved or removed and also when they may not be moved or removed.

This month, the following questions will test your knowledge of the types of items on and around the course that may or may not be moved.

Questions: True / False

  1. A pine cone falls from a tree and comes to rest in a bunker near the player’s ball. Because the ball was at rest in the bunker prior to the cone falling, the cone may be removed before the player makes a stroke.
  2. A ball comes to rest against an abandoned ball in a water hazard. The abandoned ball may be lifted and removed without the fear of penalty.
  3. A water hazard stake that interferes with a player’s swing may be moved only if the ball is outside the hazard.
  4. An out of bounds stake that interferes with the player’s backswing must not be moved.
  5. Equipment of any player may be moved even if a ball in motion might strike it.
  6. A flagstick that has been removed and placed on the ground must not be moved while a ball is in motion.
  7. After a rain shower, a ball comes to rest under a branch of a tree. The player may shake the branch to remove the water provided the ball is not in a water hazard.
  8. A player brushes away small leaves near his ball on the putting green and accidentally moves his ball with his hand. There is no penalty.
  9. Prior to making a stroke from the teeing ground, the tee-markers must not be moved to eliminate interference.
  10. When a ball rests against the flagstick but is not holed, the flagstick may be moved and if the ball falls into the hole the player is considered to have holed out with the last stroke.


  1. False. Rule 13-4c prohibits a player from touching or removing a loose impediment from any hazard in which the ball is located. Because the pine cone has come to rest in the bunker through natural causes, the player may not remove it. See Decisions 13-4/18 and /18.5.
  2. True. An abandoned ball is considered a movable obstruction and under Rule 24-1, it may be removed anywhere on the course. If the player’s ball moves as a result of the removal, there is no penalty provided the movement of the player’s ball is directly attributable to the removal of the abandoned ball.
  3. False. By definition, water hazard stakes are obstructions and, if designed to be movable, may be removed regardless of where the ball lies. See Rule 24-1.
  4. True. Out of bounds stakes (which are themselves out of bounds and therefore off the course) are treated differently than stakes on the course. By definition, stakes that define or identify out of bounds are considered fixed and Rule 13-2 prohibits a player from improving the area of the swing by moving anything fixed either on or off the course.
  5. True. Generally, an object that might influence the movement of a ball in motion must not be moved. However, Rule 24-1, which states the above prohibition, also includes an exception regarding the equipment of any player. See question #6 for another exception to the Rule.
  6. False. Rule 24-1 states that a flagstick that has been attended, removed or held up to indicate the location of the hole, may be moved even when a ball is in motion. It is important to note that Rules 17-1 and 17-2 prohibit moving the flagstick if it was not attended, removed or held up prior to the stroke and the movement might influence the movement of the ball.
  7. False. Rule 13-2 prohibits improving the area of the swing by removing water as such an action may improve the area by eliminating a distraction.
  8. True. Provided the movement of the ball is directly attributable to the removal of the loose impediments, there is no penalty. Caution should still be used when removing loose impediments on the putting green as it is still possible to incur a penalty if the movement of the ball or ball-marker is a result of actions that would not be considered directly attributable to the removal of the loose impediments. See Rule 23. Additionally, many clubs have adopted a recommended Local Rule that exonerates a player from penalty for accidentally moving the ball when located on the putting green.
  9. True. Rule 11-2 states that tee-markers are fixed and moving them to eliminate interference is a breach of Rule 13-2. If a tee-marker is accidentally moved, for instance, tripping over it, there would be no penalty and the marker must be replaced before teeing off.
  10. True. This is a rare occasion in the rules when the player may purposely cause the ball to move. When the player’s ball rests against the flagstick but has not fallen into the hole, the player may purposely cause his or her ball in play to move by moving the flagstick without incurring a penalty. If the ball falls into the hole, it is considered holed by the last stroke made. See Rule 17-4.

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