THE RULES EVERY GOLFER SHOULD KNOW
Putting-green essentials – Rules 16 and 17
In terms of your line of putt, you can repair pitch or ball marks caused by the impact of the ball, and old hole plugs, but any other damage to the putting green, such as spike marks, must not be repaired if it might assist the player in their subsequent play of the hole (Rule 16-1c). ‘Gardening’ and repairing all damage on the line of putt would undoubtedly lead to a slower pace of play.
Loose impediments such as twigs, cones, leaves and stones (and, of course, sand and soil) may be removed or brushed away using whatever comes to hand – cap, towel, hand or even your putter – provided you don’t press anything down on your line in doing so.
You are not allowed to test the putting surface by rolling a ball along it, or by roughening or scraping the surface (Rule 16-1d), nor are you allowed to putt with your feet standing astride the line of putt or touching it (Rule 16-1e).
Contrary to what some believe, you may have the flagstick attended when You ball is deemed to be holed when it is at rest within the circumference of the hole and all of it is below the level of the lip your ball lies off the putting green as well as on it (Rule 17-3). And, you can hold the flagstick in one hand while tapping the ball in with the other should you so desire, as long as it has been removed from the hole and your ball doesn’t strike it.
Finally, when is your ball deemed to be holed? According to the Rules, it is “when it is at rest within the circumference of the hole and all of it is below the level of the hole.” So, if you have chipped in or holed a putt from the fringe but the ball hasn’t fully disappeared and is resting against the flagstick, make sure all of it dips below the level of the hole by moving or removing the flagstick before plucking your ball out (Rule 17-4).
If it’s hanging agonisingly on the lip, the Rules allow ten seconds after you reach the hole (without unreasonable delay!) for your ball to drop. If it refuses to comply within that timeframe but does then drop, that will count as an extra shot in the form of a penalty stroke without you actually having to play it (Rule 16-2).
egardless of the route your ball takes on any golf hole, unless you are either conceding in match play or recording a blob in a Stableford, the final action will be played out on the putting green. The putting green is a special part of the course, and there are several Rules relating to what you can and can’t do, much of which is to be found in Rules 16 and 17.
Once your ball has reached the finely cut grass at the far end of the hole, you are allowed to do certain things that you are not permitted to do elsewhere on the golf course – for example, marking and lifting the ball, cleaning it or brushing sand away from your line (Rule 16-1a).
The putting green is the only part of the course where sand and soil are classed as loose impediments. So, if someone has created a bit of a mess extricating themselves from a greenside bunker, you may brush away any sand or soil on the green, but not on the fringe, fairway or rough.