Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Pressing Down on a Line of Putt

Sometimes we think that we know a Rule of Golf and then find that there are exceptions, which we also have to take into account. An example of this is touching the line of putt. The beginning of Rule 16-1a states;
The line of putt must not be touched
And then we see the important word, “except”, followed by these seven situations where a player is permitted to touch their intended line of putt;
(i) the player may remove loose impediments, provided he does not press anything down;
(ii) the player may place the club in front of the ball when addressing it, provided he does not press anything down;
(iii) in measuring – Rule 18-6;
(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; and
(vii) in removing movable obstructions – Rule 24-1.
Note that in two of these situations, removing loose impediments and addressing the ball, the player will still incur a penalty if they press down on their line of putt while doing so. Does it follow that when a player is repairing ball mark damage on their line of putt they must not finish the repair by tapping it down with their putter head, or their foot? The answer is no. There is no restriction in Rule 16-1c as to how a player repairs damage that has definitely been made by a ball. For many of us that may include pressing down the area, to ensure that the surface is flat following the repair and so will not subsequently divert the roll of our ball.

Rule 8-2b is also relevant to this subject;

When the player’s ball is on the putting green, the player, his partner or either of their caddies may, before but not during the stroke, point out a line for putting, but in so doing the putting green must not be touched. A mark must not be placed anywhere to indicate a line for putting.
So, the player, their partner, or either of their caddies must be careful that they do not touch anywhere on the intended line of putt, whether it is with a hand, a foot, a club, or a flagstick. But once again there is an exception; Decision 16-1a/12 clarifies that if a player walks on their line of putt, there is no penalty if they did so accidentally and their line was not improved.

I covered the definition of Line of Putt in this earlier blog; it is not always a straight line between the ball and the hole.

Concession in Stroke Play Play-off
The commentators at the fifth play-off hole of the BMW International Open in Cologne, Germany, between Henrik Stenson and Fabrizio Zanotti, last Sunday, were confused when Stenson conceded the tournament win to Zanotti. Concessions usually only apply in match play, but the relevant part of Decision 33-6/3 states;

If there is a stroke-play play-off between two competitors and one of them is disqualified or concedes defeat, it is not necessary for the other to complete the play-off hole or holes to be declared the winner.
Good golfing.


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Anonymous said...

Barry, i see many players walk up to about 10-15 feet from hole when they have long putts and try to figure out the last break, typically standing on or close to the line of their putt, is this touching the line with their foot?

Barry Rhodes said...


There is only a breach if the player is intentionally trying to improve their line of putt. As I said in the last paragraph, "Decision 16-1a/12 clarifies that if a player walks on their line of putt, there is no penalty if they did so accidentally and their line was not improved."