We looked at various scenarios involving unplayable balls, bunkers and water hazards, but also decided to take advantage of the attractive shelters that lie dotted around the course to examine the Immovable Obstruction Rule (Rule 24-2).
Some are located where it would be hard to imagine them ever coming into play (although never bet against someone being able to hit their ball into an unimaginable spot!), while others have the scope to come more readily into play with a nasty hook or slice.
The one where we shot the accompanying video is just such a shelter, so when can and when can’t you get relief from an immovable obstruction such as this?
Rule 24-2 is where you’ll find all the answers. You are not entitled to relief from an immovable obstruction when your ball is in a water hazard and the other main thing to note is that interference does not extend to the shelter simply intervening on the line on which you wish to hit your next shot.
You can only obtain relief if your ball is lying in or on the shelter (or any other immovable obstruction) or if the shelter is interfering with your stance or area of intended swing.
So the reality is that you could be quite close to it, but if you are neither standing on it, nor likely to strike it with your club on your backswing or follow-through, then you won’t get relief.
And yes, that may mean you have little option but to chip out sideways or play away from the hole.
If your ball is in or on the immovable obstruction, or it does interfere with your stance or area of intended swing, then you may take relief under Rule 24-2 following the standard nearest point of relief procedure – i.e. you should establish your nearest point of relief using the club with which you would expect to play your next shot, then drop within one club-length (using any club) of that point but nor nearer the hole.
Should your ball then end up in a position where you could realistically use a different club to the one with which you determined your nearest point of relief, then so be it.
For example, if you were thinking you would probably have to just chip out with a wedge still, but the ball rolls into a spot, within the Rules, where you might just risk a curving 3-wood, you are free to go ahead and do just that.
As always with nearest point of relief though, there is only one nearest point, and you have to accept that it could possibly leave you in a worse position than where your ball currently lies relative to your line of play.
Just to reiterate though, with regard to immovable obstructions, intervention on the line of play is not, of itself, deemed interference under Rule 24-2, and in circumstances similar to those in our video, you will be left with little choice but to chip out sideways, hit a very high lob, or possibly take on an extremely risky banana shot depending on your mood and confidence on the day!