Obstructions (Rules Definition and More Info)

Definition in the Rules of Golf
The definition of "obstruction" that appears in The Rules of Golf (written and maintained by the USGA and R&A) is this:

An "obstruction" is anything artificial, including the artificial surfaces and sides of roads and paths and manufactured ice, except:
  a. Objects defining out of bounds, such as walls, fences, stakes and railings;
  b. Any part of an immovable artificial object that is out of bounds; and
  c. Any construction declared by the Committee to be an integral part of the course.

An obstruction is a movable obstruction if it may be moved without unreasonable effort, without unduly delaying play and without causing damage. Otherwise it is an immovable obstruction.

Note: The Committee may make a Local Rule declaring a movable obstruction to be an immovable obstruction.

(Official definition ©USGA, used with permission)

To summarize, an "obstruction" is anything artificial on the golf course, with exceptions for any objects that define out of bounds, any construction that the local committee defines as an integral part of the course, or any immovable artificial object that is out of bounds.

There are movable obstructions and immovable obstructions, and I bet you can figure out the difference between them. How a player deals with an obstruction depends on whether the obstruction is movable or immovable.

In the rulebook, obstructions are covered in Rule 24. Check there for details on how to handle obstructions on the course. (In most - but not all - cases, an obstruction allows the golfer to take free relief.)

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