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

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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

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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!