Rules reminder: Know your loose impediments, and don’t touch them in a hazard

Graeme McDowell copped a two-shot penalty for touching loose impediments in a hazard last week. Let’s make sure you don’t ever make the same mistake.

Graeme McDowell was penalised two shots last week for brushing a leaf in his back swing as he played a shot from a bunker. The penalty was applied as he moved a loose impediment in a hazard. and although it had no effect on the shot at all, it’s one of those silly rules of golf we need to be aware of.
So what is a loose impediment exactly?

According to the Rules of Golf, loose impediments are defined as natural objects that include:
“stones, leaves, twigs, branches and the like, dung, and worms, insects and the like, and the casts and heaps made by them,
provided they are not:
fixed or growing, solidly embedded, or adhering to the ball.”
Sand and loose soil are considered loose impediments on the putting green, but not elsewhere.
McDowell broke the rules by touching a loose impediment in a hazard, in his case, a leaf. According to rule 13-4c:
The player must not: 
c. Touch or move a loose impediment lying in or touching the hazard.
McDowell took it on the chin which must have been difficult after finishing eagle-birdie for the round, but in some ways it’s a little difficult to believe McDowell wasn’t fully aware of the rule and didn’t take a little more care.
“It’s a very unusual situation when I’ve got a small branch behind my ball with a leaf attached to it, and in the process of addressing my golf ball, I grazed the top of the leaf,” McDowell said. “I’m deemed to have touched a loose impediment in a hazard, which is a two-shot penalty.
Anyway, there are no excuses for you now. That’s the rule. However silly it is.

One thought on “Rules reminder: Know your loose impediments, and don’t touch them in a hazard

  • September 16, 2012 at 01:39

    A little pedantic. It’s not like he picked it up and threw it out.


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