Originally Posted by 3 Putt Again
A wall? They are individual stones laid side by side. There is not a single stone stacked on top of the base stones to form a second layer. If two or three or twenty small rocks are laid side by side it does not make a wall.
"An obstruction is a movable obstruction if it may be moved without unreasonable effort, without delaying play, and without causing damage." What about these stones does not fit that definition? It would be necessary to move only a couple of them, they are small enough that they could be lifted with one hand, and they easily be replaced. So it would not be unreasonable effort, it would not delay play and it would not cause damage.
I am familiar with stacked stone walls that are several feet and multiple layers of stone high and if you were talking a wall of several layers of stone, or at least two, I would agree that moving them would cause damage but this is a single layer of stone. As you note, individual stones are not obstructions which is why I would consider them to be loose impediments.
They are arranged and set to form a border. That makes it an artificial construction. Since none of the stones are out of place, they don't qualify as stones loose from a wall, they are still part of the wall, such as it is. I agree that the status of the border stones should be clarified, but lacking such clarification, I would play it as an immovable obstruction. If you move the stone, then the ruling goes against you, you have incurred a 2 stroke penalty under Rule 13-2, and if you have already returned your card without the penalty, you are disqualified. That is a silly risk to take.
Ultimately it's a bad situation all the way around. If the border, graded area and pavement are all considered as a single obstruction, then the NPR is in the rocks. While there is only a guarantee of relief from the obstruction under Rule 24, having to drop in the rocks would likely result in an unplayable lie. Looking at the video again, I might even question his decision on another basis. He appears to be dropping closer to the hole, or at least it's enough to raise doubt. All in all, the guy in the video was rather lackadaisical in his treatment of the situation.
If it was me, I'd take the relief back up the hill and try to find a legal spot to drop where the ball would hit a playable lie when it hit the ground (and the relief would satisfy both Rule 24 and Rule 28). Since it appears that any such drop would probably roll back into interference, after a second drop, I would be required to place the ball where it hit the ground, and if I chose well, it would leave me some sort of a stroke. Then before returning my card, I would present the case to the committee. If necessary, I would even accept the penalty stroke under Rule 28 if it was determined that the stone was movable.
Question here for Rulesman: Would I still be required to play a second ball under Rule 28 in order to have that option if the ruling went against me, even though the relief procedure I used was correct for both?