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!)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.
(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/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.
I am pleased to report that my book, '999 Questions on the Rules of Golf', is now available on Kindle. However, if you would prefer to have a personally signed, hard copy you can order here.