Monday, 20 June 2011

The Line of Putt

















I have to start by congratulating Irish golfer, Rory McIlroy, on his eight strokes US Open win. Fantastic, and there has to be a lot more to come. Also, I would like to applaud his caddie, Dubliner JP Fitzgerald, who received a lot of criticism for ‘allowing’ Rory’s meltdown at the 4th round in Augusta. He shared the pain then and it is good to see that he is now able to share the spoils of a great victory.

In my last blog I discussed the four ‘line ofs’ in golf and I thought that it might be useful to expand on another one of them, the line of putt.

The Definition of Line of Putt is;

The "line of putt" is the line that the player wishes his ball to take after a stroke on the putting green. Except with respect to Rule 16-1e, the line of putt includes a reasonable distance on either side of the intended line. The line of putt does not extend beyond the hole.
The reason why it is important for a player to understand the extent of their line of putt is because Rule 16-1a states that the line of putt must not be touched. Fortunately, there are seven exceptions to this Rule, which are;
(i) the player may remove loose impediments, provided he does not press anything down (loose impediments may be removed by any means, e.g. with the putter head, a glove, the back of a hand, or even with a brush!)
(ii) the player may place the club in front of the ball when addressing it, provided he does not press anything down (this is a practice sometimes used by players as part of their putting routine)
(iii) in measuring - Rule 18-6 (e.g. to see whose ball is further from the hole)
(iv) in lifting or replacing the ball - Rule 16-1b
(v) in pressing down a ball-marker
(vi) in repairing old hole plugs or ball marks on the putting green - Rule 16-1c (but remember that no other damage to the putting green may be repaired on the line of putt, e.g. spike marks or flagstick damage)
(vii) in removing movable obstructions - Rule 24-1 (remember that if you accidentally move your ball while removing anything from the putting green, whether it is natural or artificial, there is no penalty and the ball must be replaced, Rules 23-1 and 24-1a).
Decision 16-1a/5 rules on a situation that many players may experience when there is damage to the lip of a hole, often caused by the clumsy replacement of the flagstick. In this situation the player may only repair damage that has clearly been made by a ball (i.e. a pitch-mark). If the player touches the inside of a hole for any other reason they incur the general penalty under Rule 16-1. This confirms that the line of putt includes the hole itself.

Decision 16-1a/12 rules that if a player walks on their line of putt there is no penalty if they did so accidentally and the act did not improve their line. However, if a fellow-competitor or opponent accidentally steps on and damages the player's line of putt there is no penalty. In equity, the player may have the line of putt restored to its original condition, because one of the principles of the Rules of Golf is that the player is entitled to the lie and line of putt they had when their ball came to rest.

Good golfing,




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6 comments:

Mike said...

Thanks for clearing things up when it comes to "line of flight". I forwarded this to everyone in my golf group. It drives me crazy when people want to take a drop on their "line of flight".
I might add I read your blog regularly and it's best rule educational tool I know. Keep up the great work.

Barry Rhodes said...

Thanks Mike, and thanks for forwarding the link to your golf group. I hope that other readers will do the same with their golfing buddies.

Barry

Anonymous said...

Barry,

What are you allowed to do to 'restore' your line of putt to its original condition if a playing partner steps in or accidentally creates a depression in your line? Can you use a tool?

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

I think you probably mean a fellow competitor or opponent, rather than a playing partner (who is on your side in a four-ball). You are not permitted to repair any accidental damage to your line of putt by a playing partner, fellow competitor or opponent. In stroke play, if the line of putt was damaged by a fellow competitor on purpose, the player, in equity (Rule 1-4), may restore the line of putt to its previous condition(Decision 1-2/1).

Barry

Anonymous said...

Hi Barry,

Yes, I meant a competitor. It says, "if a fellow-competitor or opponent accidentally steps on and damages the player's line of putt there is no penalty. In equity, the player may have the line of putt restored to its original condition"
I'm asking what does the word 'restored' mean here and what methods can you use to restore the line of the putt, can you use a divot tool for example.
thanks,
Mark

Barry Rhodes said...

Mark,

Apologies, I misunderstood your question. First, let me correct an error I made in my previous reply. The player is entitled to restore their line of putt if it has been damaged either accidentally or purposefully, by a fellow competitor or opponent, because they are entitled to the lie and line of putt that they had when their ball came to rest.

The player is entitled to restore any damage so caused in any way that is appropriate. So, they may use a tool (e.g. pitch repairer) to do so. Of course, they should not improve their line of putt as they are restoring the damage, for example, by flattening a spike mark that was there before their ball came to rest.

Barry