3 Putting Green Rules You Need To Know

Today I’m sharing 3 putting green rules you need to know – let’s see if you’ve encountered any of these before. 

Last week my friend Karen and I played a fun Four Ball Match Play round with Andy Proudman and Matt Blacket at our home course, The Santaluz Club.

Matt is a former European Tour Player and Andy Proudman is a PGA teaching pro and co-founder of Me And My Golf.  They obviously know the rules, but I am always on the lookout for issues that come up during a real round of golf. And, to be honest, I kind of like to catch people violating the rules!

In the first situation, Karen and Matt are partners and it’s a Four Ball Match Play. Matt is helping read Karen’s putt for her and is showing her where to die the ball. 

Is Matt permitted to touch the ground to indicate the line of play for his partner?

The answer lies in rule 10, Advice and Caddies. 10.2b(2) “The player or his caddie may touch the putting green with a hand, foot, or anything he or she is holding to indicate the line of play.”

…………………..And remember that a player may help their partner in any way that a caddie can.

So, yes, Matt can touch the putting green and I didn’t catch him in a violation.

Can a player set their putter down on the green to line up their putt as Andy appears to be doing in this video?

According to rule 10.2b(2), a player must not set an object down to show the line of play. In this case though, Andy has not set the object down, the putter is still in his hands, so no penalty here.

Here, my partner Andy is standing behind me and reading my putt. Would Andy incur a penalty here?

Rule 10.2b(4) says, “when a player begins taking a stance for the stroke, the player’s partner or caddie must not deliberately stand behind in a location on or close to an extension of the line behind the ball for any reason.”

The key phrase here is, when a player “begins taking a stance,” and as you can see I had not yet begun to take my stance. As long as Andy moves away before I begin to take my stance, there is no penalty.

Oh and P.S., I didn’t make the putt!

5 Golf Rules You Should Know

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5 Golf Rules You Should Know

The rules of golf are complicated. I get that – trust me. I found the rules so overwhelming when I first began playing golf. So many little details… you can do this but you can’t do that….  It’s enough to drive any golfer a little batty. 

Many players find it helpful to watch videos about the rules of golf, especially when they’re quick and to-the-point.  So I’m sharing 5 golf rules you should know – a few little gems that should help you on your quest to digest the rules golf. 

Let's Make Sure We Know The Defined Areas Of The Course

Before we jump in to the 5 golf rules you should know, let’s just make sure we’re on the same page about some terminology.

In 2019 the USGA, along with the R & A, renamed the defined areas of the course. The general area covers the entire course except for the four specific areas, which include:

  • The teeing area
  • Penalty areas
  • Bunkers
  • Putting green

Players often refer to ares of the course using the wrong terms, it’s important to be sure we know these terms. 

And by the way…. “the junk” is not one of the defined areas of the course! 

Can You Lift And Clean Your Ball On The Green?

In this video Karen asks if she can lift and clean her ball when it is right next to the putting green. Rule 13.1b states “A ball on the putting green may be lifted and cleaned. The spot of the ball must be marked before it is lifted and the ball must be replaced on its original spot.” 

And Rule 13.1a states that a ball is on the putting green when any part of the ball:

  • Touches the putting green, or
  • Lies on or in anything (such as a loose impediment or an obstruction) and is inside the edge of the putting green. 

So clearly Karen’s ball is not on the putting green, so she may not lift and clean her ball. 

See more details about marking your ball on the green here. 

Accidentally Move Your Ball On The Green

Fortunately, there is no  penalty if you accidentally move your all on the putting green. Rule 13.1d says there’s no penalty if the player or his fellow competitor or opponent (a match play term) accidentally casuses the ball to move on the putting green. 

Can I Share Clubs With My Partner?

Scrambles, shambles and best ball formats are quite popular, and many players think if they have a partner in that type of a format they can share clubs with their partner. Watch this videos to learn the details on the number of clubs in your bag. 

Removing Loose Impediments In a Bunker

We have heard this one quite a bit as 2019 began with all the new rules in affect. You get to remove pebbles or leaves (known as loose impediments) from a bunker now. Sounds great, but there’s a catch! If doing so causes your ball to move, you’ll incur a one-stroke penalty. Check out Rule 12.2 for more details on this one. 

Ball Wedged Against The Flagstick

Now that you are able to leave the flagstick in while putting on the green (one of the many great changes that came about in 2019) some issues can arise with the ball getting wedged against the flagstick. 

When your ball is wedged against the flagstick and you’re not sure it is considered “holed” consider Rule 13.2c. 

“If the player’s ball comes to rest against the flagstick left in the hole, 

  • If any part of the ball is in the hole below the surface of the putting green, the ball is treated as holed even if the entire ball is not below the surface.

  • If no part of the ball is in the hole below the surface of the putting green:  

The ball is not holed and must be played as it lies.

  • If the flagstickis removed and the ball moves (whether it falls into the hole or moves away from the hole), there is no penalty and the ball must be replaced on the lip of the hole (see Rule 14.2).”

See, that wasn’t so bad, was it? If you’re ready, check out unplayable lie in a bunker.

Accidentally Move Your Ball On the Green

What was previously just a Local Rule at some courses is now an official rule in 2019. There is no penalty if you accidentally move your ball on the green. Period. Whew!

Rule 13 covers everything that happens on the putting green. Rule 13.1d says, “There is no penalty if the player, opponent or another player in stroke play accidentally moves the player’s ball or ball-marker on the putting green.”

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When you or another player accidentally cause your ball to move you will then replace your ball or your ball-marker on its original spot (or the estimated spot if the exact spot is unknown).  

Natural Forces Moved The Ball

Sometimes the ball gets moved by Natural Forces (wind, rain, gravity) and when that happens there are two possible actions that need to be taken.

According to Rule 13.1d,“If Natural Forces cause a player’s ball on the putting green to move, where the player must play from next depends on whether the ball had already been lifted and replaced on its original spot.”

  • Ball already lifted and replaced:  The ball must be replaced on its original spot (or an estimated spot if not known), even though it was moved by Natural Forces and not by the player, the opponent or an outside influence. 
  • Ball not already lifted and replaced: The ball must be played from its new spot.

You can think of it this way: once you lift and mark your ball with a ball-marker and replace the ball back on the green, your ball “owns that spot”. It lives there. It’s at home.  So anytime it was at home, you will need to put it back there where it lives if Natural Forces move the ball. 

Hope that makes it a bit easier to remember!

And remember, you can repair any damage to the green.

For more details on the rules, head over to usga.org.

Learn more about Repairing Marks on the Green.

Or pop over to my Instagram and let me know what other video rules breakdowns you’d like to see.

Repairing Spike Marks On Putting Green 2019 Golf Rules

Repairing Spike Marks On Putting Green in 2019

In 2019 you’ll be happy to know that you’ll be able to repair spike marks on the green before you putt.  

Rule 13 states you’ll be able to repair any damage to the green, which would include pitch marks, spike marks, damage from the flagstick being dragged on the green, and any other damage.

However, you will not be able to repair greens that have been aerated/punched, vertical mowing, or regular wear and tear. 

The Nitty Gritty:

Rule 13.C2 (USGA)

Repair of Damage. A player may repair damage on the putting green without penalty by taking reasonable actions to restore the putting green as nearly as possible to its original condition, but only:

  • By using his or her hand, foot or other part of the body or a normal ball-mark repair tool, tee, club or similar item of normal equipment, and
  • Without unreasonably delaying play (see Rule 5.6a).

But if the player improves the putting green by taking actions that exceed what is reasonable to restore the putting green to its original condition (such as by creating a pathway to the hole or by using an object that is not allowed), the player gets the general penalty for breach of Rule 8.1a.

“Damage on the putting green ” means any damage caused by a person or outside influence, such as:

  • Ball marks, shoe damage (such as spike marks) and scrapes or indentations caused by equipment or a flagstick,
  • Old hole plugs, turf plugs, seams of cut turf and scrapes or indentations from maintenance tools or vehicles,
  • Animal tracks or hoof indentations, and
  • Embedded objects (such as a stone, acorn or tee).

But “damage on the putting green” does not include any damage or conditions that result from:

  • Normal practices for maintaining the overall condition of the putting green (such as aeration holes and grooves from vertical mowing),
  • Irrigation or rain or other natural forces,
  • Natural surface imperfections (such as weeds or areas of bare, diseased or uneven growth), or
  • Natural wear of the hole.

Check out USGA’s site for exceptions and further details, but we can breathe a sigh of relief here.

Check out How to Mark Your Ball on the Green.

Using a Club to Take Your Stance

Using a Club To Take Your Stance

Another big change in 2019 is that using a club to take your stance will earn you a penalty.

According to rule 10.2b you may not take your stance for a stroke using any object that was set down to help you line up or show you the line of play.

This is true anywhere on the course, including the putting green. Watch this video to learn more.

And you can’t place it there, line up and then remove it – you’ll still incur the General Penalty which is two strokes in Stroke Play and loss of hole in Match Play.

Take a look at page 86 of the new 2019 Rules of Golf Book, it’s Rule 10.2b (3)

So many of the new rules were designed to help speed up pace-of-play, which we are all really excited about. Read more about the USGA 2019 Rules and Interpretations.

Advice from Caddies 2019

Getting Advice from Caddies

Rule 10.2b(4) contains new restrictions when getting assistance from caddies.

Have you ever seen an LPGA event on TV where a caddie has stood behind a player to line her up on the tee box so she knows exactly what direction she should be hitting?

Well, that is now a penalty! 

You can no longer have your caddie or partner line you up before you take your stance. This is on the putting green, on the tee, anywhere in the fairway, or anywhere on the course.

The Nitty Gritty

Rule 10.2(4) Restriction on Caddie Standing Behind Player. When a player begins taking a stance for the stroke and until the stroke is made:

  • The player’s caddie must not deliberately stand in a location on or close to an extension of the line of play behind the ball for any reason.
  • If the player takes a stance in breach of this Rule, he or she cannot avoid penalty by backing away.

Exception – Ball on Putting Green: When the player’s ball is on the putting green, there is no penalty under this Rule if the player backs away from the stance and does not begin to take the stance again until after the caddie has moved out of that location.

See Rules 22, 23 and 24 (in forms of play involving partners, a player’s partner and the partner’s caddie may take the same actions (with the same limitations) as the player’s caddie may take under Rules 10.2b(2) and (4)

Check out Rule 11,  Ball In Motion Accidentally Hits a Person or Outside Influence.

How To Take Free Relief From a Cart Path

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How To Take Free Relief From a Cart Path

We probably all know that we can take  free relief from a cart path (when our ball is sitting on a cart path) but in this video I explain exactly how to take free relief from the cart path.

First Step - Determine Your Nearest Point Of Relief

You will first want to determine your “nearest point of relief”, and that isn’t as straightforward as you might think. Many players think they get to pick and choose where they can take their drop, but unfortunately that’s not exactly true. You must find your “nearest point of relief” and it’s not necessarily on the side of the path that you think or where you want it to be.

In this scenario, after we went through the steps shown on the video to determine which side of the path Karen could take her free drop on, she was happy it happened to be on the fairway side of this cart path, and not the side of the tall rough, which could have resulted in a undesirable lie. (Of course an “undesirable lie” does not warrant free relief! 

Second Step - Measuring   (Little Known Fact)

In order to determine your nearest point of relief, you must use the club you intend to use for your swing. But after you’ve found that point, then you get up to one additional club length, and that can be measured with any club you want. This is a very little known fact, but can be useful!

TIP: One club length or two?  You get up to one additional club length if it is a free drop, and up to two additional club lengths if it is a drop that is costing you a penalty stroke. 

Third Step - Take Your Drop And Be Sure Your Ball Doesn't Roll Too Far

When you’re ready to take your drop, you will want to watch where it hit the ground and where it ends up because if it rolls either more than two club lengths from the point where it touched the ground, or closer to the hole, or back to where you don’t have complete relief, then you’ll need to drop again.

How many times can you drop it before placing it? It’s two attempts at a good drop, and if neither of those are “good”, then you may place the ball (as shown on the video) where it hit the ground on the second drop.

You Must Take Complete Relief

My husband actually had a penalty in a tournament because he had taken free relief from an immovable obstruction/cart path, but when he dropped his ball, his new spot to play from still required him to have a potion of his foot on the cart path. The rules say you must take “complete relief” so having a foot stand on the path was not “complete relief”. He took second instead of first in that tournament, and was quite bummed that his fellow competitor was so anxious to tell him this after he hit his ball, and not before he swung.

Local Rule -  Stones Near The Cart Path

At The Santaluz Club, where Karen and I were playing during this video, there are stones near the cart path that have been designated as part of the actual path, as a local rule. You’ll see in the video t hat I was going to put a tee in the ground on the opposite side of the cart path, but then decided against it because my ball would be sitting on rocks, which would still be considered cart path, and therefore not complete relief.

You may also always play the ball as it lies, as I chose to do in this video above since the stones directly adjacent to the cement cart path are considered cart path under a local rule.

TIP: It’s important to take a peek at the back of the scorecard or the rules for a tournament before you begin your round as there may be local rules that can help you during your round. 

As you can see from this video above, sometimes you might want to just try to hit the ball from where it lies on the cart path. Be careful, though!

The Nitty Gritty On The Actual Rule From USGA’s Website:

24-2. Immovable Obstruction

a. Interference

Interference by an immovable obstruction occurs when a ball lies in or on the obstruction, or when the obstruction interferes with the player’s stance or the area of his intended swing. If the player’s ball lies on the putting green, interference also occurs if an immovable obstruction on the putting green intervenes on his line of putt. Otherwise, intervention on the line of play is not, of itself, interference under this Rule.

b. Relief

Except when the ball is in a water hazard or a lateral water hazard, a player may take relief from interference by an immovable obstruction as follows:

(i)

Through the Green: If the ball lies through the green, the player must lift the ball and drop it, without penalty, within one club-length of and not nearer the hole than the nearest point of relief. The nearest point of relief must not be in a hazard or on a putting green. When the ball is dropped within one club-length of the nearest point of relief, the ball must first strike a part of the course at a spot that avoids interference by the immovable obstruction and is not in a hazard and not on a putting green.

Yes, there’s a ton of golf rules,  but I hope my videos and posts are helping you!  Stay tuned for updates on the new rules of golf for 2019!