The putting green

Here’s a guide to what the Rules say you can and can’t do on the putting green.

You can:

• Lift, mark and clean your ball.

• Repair an old hole plug or pitch mark. Any other damage, such as a spike mark, may not be repaired if it might assist you in the play of the hole,

• Touch the line of a putt but only in the following situations:

1 If you place the putter-head in front of the ball prior to addressing it properly. Provided you don’t press anything down, this action is perfectly acceptable-

2 When measuring distance – for example, in a closest-to-the-pin

competition or when determining whose putt it is.

3 When placing a ball-marker in front of the ball – not a common occurrence since most golfers place a marker behind the ball.

4 When repairing pitch marks or old hole plugs- Remember, though, you cannot repair spike marks until after you’ve putted out.

5 When removing a movable obstruction or loose impediment, with either your hand or a club.

You cannot:

• Touch the line of a putt except in the situations outlined above.

• Test the surface of the putting green by rolling a ball or scraping the surface,

• Stand astride, or on, the line of a putt.

• Play your ball while another ball is in motion. If it is your turn to play, though, and in doing so you discover that someone in your group has hit at the same time, you are not penalized; your partner, however, receives a two-stroke penalty for playing while another ball is in motion.

• Touch the green when indicating the line of your playing partner’s putt. Neither can you ask your caddie or playing partner to position himself behind the hole in such a way as to deliberately indicate the line of a putt.

• Brush aside early morning dew or frost from the line of your putt. Neither of these is classified as a loose impediment. One interesting point worth mentioning here is that sand and loose soil are loose impediments on the green, and can therefore be moved, but are not loose impediments when lying off the green, so cannot be moved.

• Wait for an age for your ball to drop if it hangs agonizingly over the lip of the hole. You are allowed a reasonable amount of time to wander up to your ball and an additional 10 seconds once you get to it. If the ball hasn’t fallen in by then, you have to hole out as normal.


The flagstick

It’s the thing we all aim for. But quite apart from stating the obvious, there are a few rudimentary Rules you should know about that relate specifically to the flagstick. Basically, you have three choices when you’re off the green. You can have the ftagstick left in (with no penalty if your ball strikes it), you can have it taken out or you can have it attended. If you are off the green and request that it be attended, there is a two-stroke penalty if the ball then strikes the flagstick. If the same thing happens in matchplay, you lose the hole,

On the green, you have only two options. You either have the flagstick attended or you have it out. If your ball strikes the flagstick, whether attended or unattended, you are penalized accordingly: in matchplay you lose the hole, while in strokeplay you incur a two-stroke penalty and you then have to play the ball as it lies,

Again, it’s worth casting your mind back to the interesting scenario in Rule 8. If you are playing to