While one of the guiding principles of the game of golf is to play your ball as it lies, some necessary exceptions must be taken into consideration when applying the Rules. One of these exceptions occurs when temporary obstructions are installed on a golf course.
Under the Rules of Golf, the Committee should identify the temporary obstructions through use of a Local Rule. While this Local Rule may seem irregular, its implementation has increased on professional tours due to the expansion of tournament infrastructures. An example of this was displayed in September during the PGA Tour’s BMW Championship.
A temporary immovable obstruction (TIO) is a non-permanent artificial object that is often erected in conjunction with a competition and is fixed or not readily movable. TIOs are most common at professional events in the form of tents, scoreboards, grandstands, television towers and lavatories.
As is the case with movable and immovable obstructions, the Rules offer relief when you face interference from a temporary immovable obstruction. Interference by a TIO occurs when (a) your ball lies in front of and so close to the TIO that the TIO interferes with your stance or the area of your intended swing, or (b) your ball lies in, on, under or behind the TIO so that any part of the TIO intervenes directly between your ball and the hole and is on your line of play. Additionally, there is a one club-length buffer zone on each side of your line of play. If your ball lies in this buffer zone, interference also exists.
Sergio Garcia encountered a situation in the BMW Championship in which he faced interference from a TIO while his ball lay in a lateral water hazard. His second stroke on the par-5 18th hole at Conway Farms Golf Club came to rest between rocks inside the hazard. It was determined that interference existed with a TIO (grandstands) and, therefore, Garcia was granted free relief under the Local Rule, as prescribed below.