Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Wrong Putting Green - Noh!

Seung-Yul Noh plays from the middle of a wrong putting green
In 30 years of playing amateur golf as a high handicapper I have never seen anyone try and play a stroke from a wrong putting green (i.e. a  putting green other than the one that they are playing). I would have bet good money to say that it could not possibly happen on a Tour event, but I would have been wrong!  23 year-old, South Korean, Seung-Yul Noh, who turned professional 6 years ago, and is currently ranked 107th in the world, was penalised two strokes for doing just that. It happened last Friday, during the 2nd round of the Barclays at Ridgewood CC, Paramus, New Jersey, when following his drive on the 11th, his ball came to rest on the 3rd putting green. Believe it or not, nobody stopped him during the time it took for him to walk onto the green, assess the distance and line of play for his next shot and address his ball with an iron, before taking his second stroke to the hole; not his caddie, David Brooker, who has been a full-time tour caddie for more than two decades; not the Rules official, who was apparently standing 20 – 30 yards away; not the spectators (presumably there were some); not the three players who were putting out on the 3rd green when Noh’s ball landed amongst them and not Noh's fellow competitors, Graeme McDowell and George McNeill, who to be fair to them, were probably walking to their balls on the 11th fairway and might not have been fully aware of the situation. It is unacceptable to me that Noh and his caddie did not know the Rule. It was not an aberration, such as Tiger suffered when dropping his ball outside the permitted limit at last year’s Masters, because after the penalty was imposed they both admitted that they were unaware of the Rule, which is Rule 25-3, Wrong Putting Green;
a. Interference
Interference by a wrong putting green occurs when a ball is on the wrong putting green.

Interference to a player’s stance or the area of his intended swing is not, of itself, interference under this Rule.

b. Relief
If a player’s ball lies on a wrong putting green, he must not play the ball as it lies. He must take relief, without penalty, as follows:

The player must lift the ball and drop it within one club-length of and not nearer the hole than the nearest point of relief. The nearest point of relief must not be in a hazard or on a putting green. When dropping the ball within one club-length of the nearest point of relief, the ball must first strike a part of the course at a spot that avoids interference by the wrong putting green and is not in a hazard and not on a putting green. The ball may be cleaned when lifted under this Rule.
You can view this embarrassing episode at this PGA Tour link, which to make matters worse, shows Noh casually stamping down the large divot hole that he had made, his caddie then retrieving the divot and replacing it and subsequently, the greens staff officials arriving to properly repair the damaged area where Noh had hit from. The ensuing conversation between the Rules Official and the clueless TV commentator is almost as embarrassing as the incident itself; “Is that a Local Rule, or is it a Rule of Golf?", asks the commentator. Where do they get these guys from?

Some readers might remember a blog of mine from March 2010 (click here) where I reported on a European Tour initiative, outlined by Senior European Rules Officials, John Paramor and Andy McFee, to educate Tour players on simple rulings. They announced that if any player called on a referee to make what was considered to be a frivolous ruling, they would be given a specially produced DVD to study and also be required to attend a Rules seminar. If they failed to attend this seminar within the next three tournament weeks they could be barred from entering another event until they did. Coincidently, I emailed the European Tour only a few weeks ago asking whether this sanction had ever been effected and if so how many times? I did receive a reply, confirming that the policy was introduced some four years ago and that until recently it has acted as a deterrent with few of these rulings requests, but that they were quite willing to firstly remind the players that this policy is in force and that the Tour is ready to enforce it where necessary. Perhaps I am being too skeptical, but my interpretation of this response is that no players have ever been sanctioned under this initiative. It is a shame that Seung-Yul Noh isn’t a European Tour player, or their resolve could have been tested!

Yet Another Bizarre Rules Incident
The Chella Choi infraction, at the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open, reported at this Golf Channel link (with video clip) merits a blog of its own, but I have already said enough for this week. To whet your appetite, Choi refused to accept the penalty imposed and chose to withdraw instead. It’s worth watching!

Good golfing,

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Unknown said...

Re practicing on a 9 hole course playing an 18 hole competition...

Would you agree that "you can not practice puts on the front 9 when playing 18... though on the back nine its fine (if you are not delaying play) after you have completed the hole..." do you know of a ruling?


Barry Rhodes said...


No, I would not agree, because Decision 7-2/9 rules otherwise;

Q. An 18-hole stroke-play competition is played on a 9-hole course. A competitor, having holed out at the 3rd hole, plays a practice putt on the 3rd green. Since the stipulated round requires that the competitor play the 3rd hole as the 12th hole later in the round, is the competitor penalized for practicing?

A. No. Rule 7-2 permits a player between the play of two holes to practice putting or chipping on or near the putting green of the hole last played.


Anonymous said...


Thank you for your very helpful and instructive web site and emails.

On this subject of a ball on the wrong green, what is the rule about lifting the ball? Is it necessary to mark the ball on the green and then lift and drop the ball? Or is it sufficient to simply lift the ball without marking it and then drop where one assesses is the nearest point of relief?

Linked to this, should one mark the nearest point of relief and then drop within one club length?

Without having marked the ball on the wrong green, the nearest point of relief and one club length, it would be difficult to assess whether the ball comes to a rest no nearer the green.


Barry Rhodes said...


There is no requirement to place a mark, either where the ball lies on the wrong putting green or at the nearest point of relief off it.

The player only incurs a penalty if they drop and play a ball from outside of the permitted area.

I recommend that you check out my blog on this subject, dated 17th October 2012.


Anonymous said...

My approach shot to a green spun back into a lateral water hazard. The flag was placed at the front of the green and I was long and left of the flag. I played my fourth shot under penalty from where I hit the original approach shot, but could I have taken relief from the hazard by dropping the ball 2 club lengths not nearer the hole even if this meant I was dropping the ball on the green?

Barry Rhodes said...


If there was a spot within two club-lengths of where the ball last crossed the margin of the lateral water hazard, not nearer the hole, then you may drop a ball there, even if it is on a putting green.