INTRODUCTION TO THE RULES OF PUTTING
“Study the rules so that you won’t beat yourself by not knowing something.” — Babe Didricksen Zaharias.
Golf can be a real challenge of a game. There are so many different types of shots you need to learn and courses to challenge your skill against. A lot of golfers have a basic understanding of the rules particularly where penalties are involved, seldom do they know when the rules can work in their favor? An understanding of the rules associated with being on the putting surface, can help you to prevent a mistake, causing you to take a penalty. It will also help you to resolve some issues that you may come across, with minimal fuss and without penalty.
In this blog, we are going to be looking at ways of overcoming problems that putting can pose you. Look at the video below for an overview of recent changes to the Rules of Golf.
THINGS TO KNOW
On the putting green, you can mark lift and clean your ball, but you must return it to the exact spot when you are ready to putt. You can leave the marker down as you replace the ball and line up you ball mark aiming down your target line. Once you pick the marker up, you are not permitted to move the ball. However, you can replace the marker and move the ball again if you wish.
You are also permitted to repair pitch marks and you should repair yours as a matter of course. This assists the players coming up behind you and the green staff in keeping the greens in good condition.
If there are loose impediments on the green such as stones, detached twigs or leaves you are permitted to remove them.
Remember that if your ball is resting against such an impediment and you cause the ball to move when you remove it, you will need to replace the ball where it was originally and take a one-shot penalty.
You might also find sand from the bunkers on the green surface on your line. You are permitted to brush this away but, remember you can only do that if your ball is on the green?
You might also be obstructed by moveable artificial obstructions such as litter, rakes and dropped scorecards etc. You are permitted to remove any such object wherever you may be on the course, including the green.
If your ball lies in or on top of such and obstruction, you may remove it and get rid of the obstruction. You then need to take a drop directly over the point under where the ball lay on the obstruction. However, when you’re on the green you can place the ball rather than dropping it.
The normal golf etiquette on the green, requires that the player who is furthest from the hole putts first. You continue with that until everyone has putted. However, if your first putt finishes close to the hole and you are happy to tap in, you can request that you finish up, which would generally not be a problem. Tapping in helps to speed up the game.
Remember that you no longer need to remove the pin when putting, You can if you wish but there is no longer a penalty if you hit the pin when putting.
If you are putting from the fringe you can either remove the flag or leave it in. There is no penalty if you hit the flag when you are off the green surface.
If your ball is at rest on the green and another player’s ball hits it and displaces it, you are required to replace the ball in its original position without penalty.
A new local rule is in affect as of 1 January 2017 whereby, you would not receive a penalty if you accidentally moved the ball as you take up your address position. Simply replace the ball in its original position and continue without penalty.
Having a knowledge of these basic rules will help you avoid penalty shots and resolve issues that arise. If in any doubt carry a Rules of Golf booklet in your bag. You can download them for free from the R&A website: https://www.randa.org/en/rulesoverview.
The R&A provide a Rule of Golf App as well so can can have the rules at your fingertips when your out on the course. The App can be downloaded for Apple or android phones via the following links:
When you practice it’s important that you focus on;
- Specific skill
- With aids that provide instant feedback
- With a defined way of testing that you have gained or improved the specific skill
- With enough repetition to ensure that you can incorporate the skill into your putting system and take it to the green
To achieve this, it is important that you practice in a balanced way. Most of your practice say 70% can and should be conducted indoors on a putting matt. The focus should be on the mechanics of stance, posture, balance, grip and stroke.
When you go outside onto the practice green, focus on the art of putting. On green reading pace and distance control.
Practicing like this ensures that you use your time effectively and maximises skill acquisition and development.