Rules Review – Embedded Ball

How do I know if it’s embedded and how can I get relief?


If you have ever played a course that is unusually wet, chances are you’ve had one or two embedded balls.  There are a few key points to understand about embedded balls and just like most rules in the Rules of Golf, the most important point to understand is the definition.

Rule 25-2 states that “a ball is “embedded” when it is in its own pitch-mark and part of the ball is below the level of the ground. A ball does not necessarily have to touch the soil to be embedded (e.g., grass, loose impediments and the like may intervene between the ball and the soil).” There is also a very handy decision (Decision 25-2/0.5) that expands on the definition of an embedded ball.  The decision goes on to state that a ball is deemed to be embedded in the ground ONLY IF 1. the impact of the ball landing has created a pitch-mark in the ground 2. the ball is in its own pitch-mark AND 3. part of the ball is below the level of the ground.


Now that we know the definition and we can determine that the ball is, in fact, embedded, we need to know how to take relief from that embedded ball. Relief is simple: the player may lift, clean and drop the ball, without penalty, as near as possible to the spot where it lay but not nearer the hole. The ball when dropped must first strike a part of the course through the green.

Your first question: do I have to mark it when I lift it?
Answer: No, but you can.  There is no harm in marking the position of the ball if you would like.

Your next question: can I clean it?
Answer: YES! And you should – it’s probably dirty!

Your last question: How close do I have to drop it to the pitch mark?
Answer: Your best bet is to try and drop that ball directly back into its pitch-mark. (If you’re able to get it back in the pitch-mark, send me a video)

Make sure to check back next week for another Rules Review!
Questions about embedded golf balls? Email Maggie.

**Note: This post does not address the difference between Rule 25-2 and the local Rule found in Appendix I that allows relief through the green for an embedded ball. Because most amateur events (and all CGA events) utilize the local Rule, this distinction was left out of this post for the purpose of clarity.

Rules Review: Loose Impediments

What are they and what can I do with them?


Every single time you step on the golf course, you encounter loose impediments. Pine needles, twigs, stones, worms and leaves are all loose impediments and can get in your way on the course. So what can you do about them? First, let’s look at the definition of loose impediments so we can understand exactly what they are.

Loose impediments are natural objects, including: 1. stones, leaves, twigs, branches and the like, 2. dung, and 3. worms, insects and the like, and the casts and heaps made by them, provided they are not: 1. fixed or growing, 2. solidly embedded, or 3. adhering to the ball.

Now that we know what a loose impediment IS, what do we do with them when they’re in the way? Rule 23 in the Rules of Golf tells us that except when both the loose impediment and the ball lie in or touch the same hazard, any loose impediment may be removed without penalty. That means that a leaf in the fairway, rough, on the putting green, on the teeing ground, ANYWHERE other than in a hazard with your ball, can be moved at any time for any reason (except when a ball is in motion and the removal of the loose impediment might influence the movement of the ball). However, if your ball lies in the same hazard (which includes both water hazards and bunkers) as the loose impediment, you CANNOT move it.

Alright, we know what they are and we know when we can (and cannot) move them. The last vital thing to remember about loose impediments is that when moving the loose impediment, you must make sure that your ball DOES NOT move. Rule 23 will tell us that if the ball lies anywhere other than on the putting green and the removal of the loose impediment by the player causes the ball to move, the player will incur a 1-stroke penalty and the ball MUST be replaced. So only move the loose impediment if you’re sure that you’re not going to move the ball.  Something like this:

Make sure to check back next week for another Rules Review!
Questions about loose impediments? Email Maggie.