Sprinkler Heads Close to the Green

I am often asked about the Rule concerning sprinkler heads near to the green. My first response is that it is not a Rule of Golf; rather a Local Rule that can be introduced by the Committee in charge of the competition. In other words, only when the Local Rule is in effect may you get relief for an immovable obstruction (sprinkler head) near to the green that is on your line of play. Let’s look more closely at the situation.

A sprinkler head is an immovable obstruction and is covered by Rule 24-2. That Rule states that you are entitled to relief for a ball that lies in or on the obstruction or when the obstruction interferes with your area of intended stance or swing. However, Rule 24-2 does not grant relief for an obstruction that intervenes on your line of play when you are off the putting green.

So, how do we get relief for a sprinkler head that is on our line of play? Introduce the Local Rule for “Immovable Obstructions Close to the Putting Green.” That Local Rule is listed in Appendix I in Part B of the Rules of Golf under Specimen Local Rules.

But not so fast, let’s review the criteria that must apply:

  1. The ball must lie through the green (not in a bunker of water hazard); and
  2. The immovable obstruction (sprinkler head) must be on or within two club-lengths of the putting green; and
  3. The immovable obstruction must be within two club-lengths of the ball; and
  4. The immovable obstruction must intervene on the line of play between the ball and the hole.

If and only if, all of the criteria above apply for intervention on our line of play, then the player may lift and drop the ball at the nearest point of relief that is not nearer the hole, avoids intervention and is not in a hazard or on a putting green.

Please note that the ball is not dropped within one club-length of that point of relief; rather at the nearest point of relief. The one club-length is used for standard relief, not intervention relief (I am hoping the USGA Santa Claus modifies these two Rules for 2016 and make their relief procedures similar to avoid the confusion and penalties).

Remember, it pays to know the Rules. Knowing the Rules of Golf can help you save strokes and enjoy the game of golf.

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