Rules of Golf: Can I Get Relief From Sprinkler Head in the Way of a Putt?

It is fun getting out and playing a round with friends and family. You have the opportunity to take in the smells of fresh cut grass, hear the birds chirping and feel a crisp clean shot off the face of the club. Meandering down the fairway is always a wonderful way to spend the day.

And then it happens. You find your awesome approach shot sitting smack dab behind a sprinkler head just off the green. You want to putt it because it is the best choice for you. What does one do? Do you play it as it lies? Is there a penalty in taking relief? Let me walk you through this moment in time to get you back on track with your lovely day of golf.

Definition to Know:

Immovable Obstruction:  An immovable obstruction is an artificial object on the course that cannot be moved (e.g. a building, sprinkler head, electrical box, cart path, etc.) or cannot readily be moved (e.g. a firmly embedded direction post). Objects defining out of bounds are not treated as obstructions.


Kate has arrived at her ball just off the green and has decided her best chance for an up-and-down is to putt the ball. However, there is an annoying sprinkler head in the way of the line of the putt. What can Kate do in this situation?


The sprinkler head is considered by the Rules of Golf as an ‘immovable obstruction’. It can be treated the same as any other immovable obstruction on the course. Kate can have relief without penalty if the sprinkler head is interfering with either her stance or the area of her intended ‘swing’. In other words, since the immovable obstruction (sprinkler head) is in the line of Kate’s putt and she is not standing on it or going to ‘hit’ it with her putting stroke, she is not allowed free relief.


This is a bummer, but since the sprinkler head is not interfering with her stance or swing and the ball is not resting on it, she will have to play the ball as it lies. She would have to putt the ball across the sprinkler, or perhaps, choose a different way to play the shot (chip it over the sprinkler head onto the green).

Final Thoughts

Golf is an amazing game that we all adore playing. Sometimes the ‘rub of the green’ isn’t quite what we had wanted or expected. I think of the game as a game of inches. Sometimes those ‘inches’ add up to higher scores and sometimes we go low. In any case, the game of golf gives us a challenge every day. If we find ourself near a sprinkler head and it is in our way of a putt, just change the way you think about it and make up your mind that you can simply chip it in.

I don’t know about you, but I love the Rules of Golf because it keeps us honorable on the course.

Thanks for joining us here at Bunkers Paradise for another installment on the Rules of Golf.


keep smiling¬†and always believe’


Written by BP Staff

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