Question: Drains are clearly immovable obstructions, but is there any relief from the (man-made) depression around a drain even if the drain itself does not interfere with one’s stance or swing?
Answer: Great question that stirs up a little bit of debate. The player is not entitled to relief just because of the ground indentation caused by the sprinkler being there, there must be physical interference from the immovable obstruction. It would be difficult to determine where the indentation no longer exists as sometimes you have large collection areas with slopes that can be dozen of feet long. However, if the area around a sprinkler has been dug out creating sharp edges, now you have a hole made by a greenskeeper and is by definition ground under repair, and relief from the hole is available.
Todd Stice is our in-house Rules of Golf Expert. You can learn more about Todd here.