Found a pesky red or yellow marker post is getting in the way? Our Rules of Golf expert Steve is on hand to help

Markers are hugely helpful on the golf course. Some tell us how far we’ve got to go to the green, some mark the boundaries of the layout and others tell us whether we’re in a penalty area or not.

Sometimes, though, they get in the way. As they did in this email I received…

“My partner’s ball landed up against a yellow marker pole on the outside of a penalty area. Moving the pole would have meant the ball dropping into the penalty area as it was on a steep incline. The ball could not be played as it lay due to the marker post. What should have been the correct course of action?”

Rules of Golf explained: Our expert says

Let’s take these in turn. Firstly, can you remove penalty area stakes? Yes, you can. A USGA rules FAQ comes to the rescue here. They are movable obstructions under the Rules and you can take free relief under Rule 15.2a.

But read the FAQ carefully. It says there are rare occasions where you can’t – for example if they are set into a concrete base – and you’d need to look at immovable obstructions, and specifically Rule 16.1a (2), to see if you’re allowed to take relief from these.

Don’t confuse the rules for yellow and red posts, and things like distance markers, with white stakes. The latter represent out of bounds, are boundary objects, and free relief is not allowed from them. Don’t touch them.

So what now? In this case, the ball is up against the yellow pole. If the ball moves when the obstruction is removed, you replace it on its original spot. There is no penalty.

If the ball won’t stay on its spot, you’d employ Rule 14.2e and try a second time. If it still won’t behave, you find the nearest spot where the ball will stay at rest – making sure it is no nearer the hole.

If the original spot was in the general area, as it is here, the nearest spot must be in the general area. If it happened to be in the penalty area, the spot must be in the same penalty area.

Have a question for our Rules of Golf expert?

Despite the simplification of the Rules of Golf at the beginning of 2019, there are still some that leave us scratching our heads. And as I’ve passed the R&A’s level 2 rules exam with distinction, I am more than happy to help.

If you’ve sent me an email and are yet to hear back from me, I will try to answer your query. I have been inundated with requests in recent and am working hard to try and get through them.

I’ve also received a number of emails from players hoping I can intervene in a club rules dispute. For fairly obvious reasons, I can’t do that and would direct those players either to their county or to the rules department at the R&A for a definitive judgement.

Click here for the full Rules of Golf explained archive and details of how to submit a question to our expert.

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