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Golf Monthly - - Green Book -

all marks or pitch­marks can al­ways be re­paired on the green, but if they are not on the green, be­ware, as 17-year-old Won Jun Lee dis­cov­ered in US Open sec­tional qual­i­fy­ing this year. Shona McRae, R&A as­sis­tant di­rec­tor – Rules, ex­plains…

Ball marks (of­ten re­ferred to as pitch-marks) leave un­sightly marks and, more im­por­tantly, cause dam­age that can last for weeks. The Rules per­mit ball marks on the putting green to be re­paired, whether or not the player’s ball lies on the putting green (Rule 16-1c), and re­pair­ing them as soon as pos­si­ble is im­por­tant to help pre­vent any long-term dam­age.

How­ever, pitch-marks of­ten oc­cur else­where, in par­tic­u­lar on the apron or fringe of the green af­ter a player has just missed with a short ap­proach, es­pe­cially when the ground is soft. This

Bwas the sit­u­a­tion am­a­teur Won Jun Lee found him­self in dur­ing US Open sec­tional qual­i­fy­ing at Timuquana Coun­try Club in Florida this June.

Lee de­cided to re­pair the pitch-mark his ball had made on the fringe of the 11th green dur­ing the se­cond round. As a re­sult of soft ground con­di­tions, his ball had pitched, jumped for­ward and come to rest in front of the pro­nounced pitch-mark. As the pitch­mark was on the fringe and not on the green it­self, Lee was not en­ti­tled to re­pair it as do­ing so would im­prove his area of in­tended swing.

A player is pro­hib­ited from tak­ing ac­tions to im­prove his lie, line of play, area of in­tended stance or swing or any other area cov­ered by Rule 13-2. ‘Im­prove’ means to change for the bet­ter, whereby the player cre­ates a po­ten­tial ad­van­tage with re­spect to the po­si­tion or lie of the ball, area of in­tended stance or swing or line of play.

Ac­tions such as mov­ing, bend­ing or break­ing any­thing grow­ing or fixed, or cre­at­ing or elim­i­nat­ing ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties of sur­face, can all re­sult in a po­ten­tial ad­van­tage de­pend­ing on the cir­cum­stances. When Lee re­paired the pitch-mark be­hind his ball, he elim­i­nated the raised ground caused by the pitch-mark – an area he was about to swing the club over – and was con­se­quently in breach of Rule 13-2.

It is worth not­ing that had the pitch-mark been cre­ated af­ter the player’s ball had come to rest, for ex­am­ple by an­other player, in eq­uity, Lee would have been en­ti­tled to re­pair the ball mark. A player is en­ti­tled to the lie which his stroke gave him.

Wait­ing to re­pair the dam­age un­til af­ter he played would have saved Lee. Un­for­tu­nately, the two-stroke penalty re­sulted in him post­ing a two-round to­tal of 139, miss­ing out on the play-off for the qual­i­fy­ing spot by one stroke.

Pitch-marks on the putting green may be re­paired re­gard­less of the po­si­tion of the ball

Pitch-marks through the green may only be re­paired if it doesn’t im­prove for the stroke

If the pitch­mark was cre­ated af­ter the ball came to rest, e.g. by some­one else’s ball, it may be re­paired

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