Rules Review – Parts of the Golf Course 2

Part Two of a Four-Part Series

Every golf course is divided into four major parts.  Understanding these four parts of the golf course is essential to understanding HOW to apply the Rules of Golf. In the next four weeks we are going to discuss the four parts of the golf course.


Week Two: The Putting Green

The putting green is all ground of the hole being played (similar to the teeing ground, it must be of the hole being played) that is specially prepared for putting or otherwise defined as such by the Committee. Every other putting green (including practice putting or chipping greens) are WRONG putting greens. (see Rule 25-3)

A ball is ON the putting green when ANY part of it touches the putting green. This is perhaps the most important part of the definition – if even ONE dimple of your golf ball is touching the putting green, your ball is ON the putting green. Why is that important? Because now you can mark your ball, lift it and clean it before making a stroke!


A few Rules to remember about the putting green:

  • You may repair a ball mark on the putting green at ANY time, whether or not your ball lies on the putting green. You may also repair an old hole plug at any time. (Rule 16-1c)
  • You MAY NOT repair spike marks or any other damage to the putting green if it might assist you in the subsequent play of the hole. (Rule 16-1c)
  • You MUST NOT touch your line of put, except in these seven instances (Rule 16-1a):
    1. you may move loose impediments
    2. you may place the club in front of the ball when addressing it
    3. in measuring (i.e. when you are moving your ball marker out of someone’s line of putt)
    4. in lifting or replacing the ball
    5. in pressing down a ball marker
    6. in repairing old hole plugs or ball marks on the putting green
    7. in removing movable obstructions (such as a cigarette butt)
  • You, your partner or a person you authorize (such as a caddy) may mark and lift your golf ball on the putting green. (Rule 20-1)
  • Similarly, you, your partner or the person who lifted the ball may replace your golf ball on the putting green. (Rule 20-3a)

Helpful hints about the putting green:

  • Whether you’re playing match play or stroke play, the ball farthest from the hole should always be played first. It does not matter if one ball is on the green and the other is not. (Rule 10-1b, Rule 10-2b)
  • If a player’s ball is in motion and it may strike the removed flagstick, you CAN move the flagstick so that the player’s ball does not strike it and therefore incur a penalty. (Rule 24-1)
  • Once you have finished putting and all players in your group are done with the hole, it is fine to tap down spike marks for the players coming behind you. (Decision 1-2/0.7)

Make sure to check back next week for Part Three of this series – Hazards!
Questions about the putting green? Email Maggie.

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