Originally Posted by Fourputt
A loose impediment, once moved, does not have to be replaced. Therefore, the ball must be replaced as closely as possible to where it lay, but the leaf does not have to be replaced. If anyone can find a decision disputing this, I'd be happy to see it.
Rule 12-1 b:
b. Searching for or Identifying Ball Covered by Loose Impediments in Hazard
In a hazard, if the player’s ball is believed to be covered by loose impediments
to the extent that he cannot find or identify it, he may, without penalty,
touch or move loose impediments in order to find or identify the ball.
If the ball is found or identified as his, the player must replace the loose
impediments. If the ball is moved during the touching or moving of loose
impediments while searching for or identifying the ball, Rule 18-2a applies;
if the ball is moved during the replacement of the loose impediments, there is
no penalty and the ball must be replaced.
If the ball was entirely covered by loose impediments, the player must
re-cover the ball but is permitted to leave a small part of the ball visible.