Golf News

Can You Move Stakes On The Golf Course Without Penalty?

Moving red stake on golf course

The simple answer to this question is that it largely depends on what colour they are.

Many golf courses will feature stakes of three different colours – red and yellow denoting penalty areas and white signifying out of bounds. Most often these stakes will be easily movable, at least physically, but crucially, only the red and yellow stakes can be classed as ‘movable obstructions’ under the Rules of Golf.

And therein lies the key difference between red or yellow stakes and white ones. If red or yellow stakes are easily movable, normally you may move them under Rule 15.2a to allow you to play your shot more easily whether your ball is lying inside the penalty area or outside (very rarely committees may class them as immovable even if easily movable and that does change things – see below). But if they are movable obstructions and you move your ball while removing a red or yellow stake, there is no penalty and the ball must be replaced.

Most red or yellow penalty area stakes are movable obstructions that you can move wherever your ball is lying

(Image credit: Kevin Murray)

White out of bounds stakes, on the other hand, are designated boundary objects and these are considered ‘fixed’ even if you could easily move them physically. This means that if your ball is in bounds and a white stake interferes with the lie of your ball, your stance or your area of intended swing, there is no free relief from it, and if you wish to take relief it will be under penalty via one of the unplayable ball options in Rule 19.

White OOB stakes on golf course

White OOB stakes are boundary objects that you may not move to make it easier to play your shot (if in bounds, of course!)

(Image credit: Kevin Murray)

There is one bit of good news, though. If you do remove a white stake to facilitate your next shot, but then realise or remember that you can’t do that before playing, there will be no penalty if you ‘restore the conditions’ under Rule 8.1c by replacing the white stake exactly where it was.

However, if you do go ahead and play having removed a white stake, you will be adjudged to have improved the conditions affecting the stroke under Rule 8.1a, which gets you the general penalty of two shots in stroke play or loss of hole in match play.

Moving white OOB stake

You cannot do this, but if you replace it before playing to ‘restore the conditions’ you can escape penalty

(Image credit: Kevin Murray)

Sometimes, stakes may be set in concrete or similar. So, what happens then? Well, with white out of bounds stakes, it makes no…


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