Recently, a member of the LPGA Amateurs community asked:

Do I get free relief from a building (like a bathroom on the course) or an electric box?

– Deborah N.

Hi, Deborah. Anything on the golf course that is artificial or manmade is an obstruction by definition, except for integral objects and boundary objects. You can find these definitions in the back of the Rules of Golf book. Some are movable like a plastic bottle or chair and you would just move them out of your way (Rule 15) but some are immovable like a cart path or an electric box.

Examples of obstructions:

  • Artificially surfaced roads and paths, including their artificial borders.
  • Buildings and rain shelters.
  • Sprinkler heads, drains and irrigation or control boxes.
  • Stakes, walls, railings and fences (but not when they are boundary objects that define or show the boundary edge of the course).
  • Golf carts, mowers, cars and other vehicles.
  • Waste containers, signposts and benches.
  • Player equipment, flagsticks and rakes.

Rule 16 covers free relief that is allowed from interference by by animal holes, ground under repair, immovable obstructions or temporary water. These are collectively called abnormal course conditions and free relief is available if the player has interference.

The confusion comes for some players when we come to defining interference. Interference exists when your ball touches the abnormal course condition, the condition interferes with your stance or area of intended swing or when your ball is on the putting green, it intervenes on your line of play. You would get relief from the bathroom or electric box if you have any of these conditions. You will not get relief if the obstruction is just on your line of play. People can get confused when they see professional players getting relief from things like leaderboards or signs. Those particular obstructions have special status as Temporary Immovable Obstructions and are just there for our tournament. We give line of sight relief for these because they are not usually on the course and often times interfere with the playability of a hole. We would not give line of play relief for regular obstructions such as bathrooms and electric boxes that are normally there year-round.

Thanks for the question and hope this helps!