Ask the Rules Guy: Can you move an obstruction in a lateral hazard?

Ask the Rules Guy

Rules Man: My opponent's ball landed inside a lateral hazard but on dry land. A large birdhouse outside the hazard line was in his way, preventing him from going at the pin. He wanted to move the birdhouse, but I said it had to stay put. Who was right?
— Jim Verploeg, Oakland, Calif.

Well, that's a rarity in golf: a bad birdie. Jim, you were correct. The birdhouse stays. It's an obstruction, and unless it can be moved easily without delay or damage to the course, it's an immovable one, regardless of whether it stands inside or outside the hazard line.