Can You Drop From the Rough to Fairway: Immovable Obstruction Rule

I was recently contacted by a friend asking if he did the correct thing while taking relief from an immovable obstruction. He mentioned he was in the rough and under the rules was allowed to take relief.  The fairway was right there next to his ball, within one club length, so he went for it and dropped the ball in the fairway. Have you been in this same situation scratching your head? Was he right?

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Definition of immovable obstruction

An ‘immovable obstruction’ is an obstruction that cannot be moved: anything artificial (including artificial surfaces, maintenance roads, electrical boxes…) Fences, walls and stakes that define ‘out of bounds’ are not included for relief.


Ken hits his tee shot off course a bit and ends up in the rough just off the fairway. When he arrives at the ball, he finds he is up against an immovable obstruction (bolted down trash can) and is entitled to relief from the immovable obstruction. He sees a great opportunity. The Rules state that the player is allowed to take one club length relief from the immovable obstruction and in doing so the fairway is within that one club length. Ken drops the ball onto the fairway in relief of the immovable obstruction. Is this allowed?

Golf ball trash can


Yes! Ken is not penalized in any way. Grass is grass right?!

There is no distinction in the Rules of Golf between fairway and rough.  Both are covered by the term ‘through the green’ — area of the golf course is not a hazard (i.e., a bunker or a water hazard), and is not the teeing ground or the putting green of the hole you are playing.

Final Thoughts

The Rules of Golf are here to assist the golfer and not necessarily penalize the player. Ken did the right thing in allowing the Rules of Golf to give him the relief he was entitled to even if he, without penalty, was able to take the ball from the rough to the fairway. And don’t forget, if you decide to take relief (you can play the ball as it lies), you must take FULL relief.

We hope this helps you better understand this particular situation and thank you for attending Kate’s Rules School. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave your comment below.

‘keep smiling and always believe’

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Written by BP Staff

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