Tuesday, 17 March 2015

The Hole on the Putting Green

As a Rules ‘enthusiast’ I am repeatedly asked similar questions by players, whatever their golfing ability. Here are five of them relating to the hole on the putting green.
  • “Player 1 chips his ball from off the green and leaves his ball in the cup. Player 2 then chips and his ball goes in the hole. Is there a penalty and if so what is it?”
There is no penalty. A ball is holed when it is at rest within the circumference of the hole and all of it is below the level of the lip of the hole. The fact that it may be at rest on another ball, or balls, (as in the photo) is not relevant. Definition of Holed.
  • “After holing out, a player smoothes the ragged edge of the hole with his hand. Do they incur a penalty if a fellow-competitor or partner has not yet holed out?”
The player is only penalised if their smoothing of the ragged edge was done with the intention of influencing the movement of a fellow-competitor's or partner's ball, not if it was solely for the purpose of caring for the course. However, it is recommended that a player should only smooth the ragged edge of a hole after all players in the group have completed play of the hole. Decision 1-2/3.5.
  • “If there is an old plug hole on my line of putt on the putting green, which has an artificial cover (e.g. plastic or synthetic grass), may I take relief without penalty?”
Yes, players may take line of putt relief from the artificial hole plug, which is an immovable obstruction. Rule 24-2b(iii) states;
If the ball lies on the putting green, the player must lift the ball and place it, without penalty, at the nearest point of relief that is not in a hazard. The nearest point of relief may be off the putting green. 
  • “Must the hole be positioned at least four paces from any edge of the putting green?”
There is no Rule regarding hole locations, so there is no such thing as an illegal hole location. However, both the R&A and USGA have listed the many factors that they recommend should be considered to select good hole positions and they include the statement that generally the hole be located at least four paces from any edge of the green.
  • “A friend hit his ball onto the green and it landed just outside some GUR marked on the green. He wanted to putt the ball but his line of putt was going through the GUR so he asked for relief, which I would not give him because I said he could chip his ball over the GUR, was I right or wrong?”
You were wrong, the player may take relief in this circumstance! Rule 25-1b(iii) deals with taking relief from an abnormal ground condition (which includes GUR) on a putting green;
If the ball lies on the putting green, the player must lift the ball and place it, without penalty, at the nearest point of relief that is not in a hazard or, if complete relief is impossible, at the nearest position to where it lay that affords maximum available relief from the condition, but not nearer the hole and not in a hazard. The nearest point of relief or maximum available relief may be off the putting green.
However, there is no line of play relief from an abnormal ground condition on the putting green if the player's ball lies off the putting green.

Good golfing,




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