putting green is one of the best places you can be on the course, and not just
because it means the hole is in sight! More importantly, the putting green is a
place where you have special permissions and abilities under the Rules of Golf
that you won’t find elsewhere. In this article, we will dive into several
things that are unique to the putting green and important for you to know when
you go out to play.
putting green is one of the five defined areas of the course. Knowing when your
ball is on the putting green is essential to being able to proceed under the
Rules that apply to this specific area.
putting green is the area specially prepared for putting on the hole that you
are playing (or, it can be the area the Committee has defined as the putting
green, such as when a temporary green in the fairway is being used). It is
specific to the hole you are playing – the greens of all other holes that you
are not playing at the moment are wrong greens, from which free relief must be
the edge of the putting green is defined by where the specially prepared area
starts; for example, where the grass is distinctly cut for the putting green. A
ball is on the putting green when any part of it touches the putting green or
when any part of the ball is on or in something that lies on the putting green
(such as a ball sitting on a leaf on the putting green).
is important to note that the ball needs to be touching either the putting
green itself or something on it – the putting green does not extend upward, and
therefore, a ball on the fringe that is overhanging the edge of the putting
green is not treated as being on the putting green.
are many things that you can do when your ball is on the putting green that you
can’t do elsewhere on the course. Let’s talk about a few of them.
your ball is on the putting green, you may mark the spot of your ball, lift it,
and clean it freely. There is no limit to the number of times you may do this
if you do not unreasonably delay play.
(or your caddie) may also touch the putting green with a hand, a foot, a club,
the flagstick, etc., even if doing so to point out your line of play. The only
restriction here is that you must not improve any of the conditions affecting
your stroke in doing so (meaning that you can’t improve your line of play, for
example), and you also must not set an object down either on or off the putting
green to show the line of play.
of the big changes that came in the most recent Rules updates in 2019 has to do
with accidental movement of a ball on the putting green. If you accidentally
cause your ball to move on the putting green, there is no penalty, and you
simply need to replace the ball on its original spot and play on.
same is true if you accidentally cause your ball marker to move.
are also some special privileges associated with the putting green itself that
you have access to regardless of where on the course your ball lies. For
example, you are allowed to move sand and loose soil when they are on the
putting green, even if doing so improves your line of play. You are also
allowed to repair damage on the putting green in order to restore it to its
original condition. This means you are free to repair damage from shoes
(including spike marks), animal footprints, and embedded objects, among other
items. This is true regardless of where your ball lies.
courses use one large putting surface with two holes as the putting green for
two different holes. This is called a double green. The definition of putting
green gives us some guidance as to how double greens are treated.
a putting green is being used for two different holes, the entire prepared area
is treated as the putting green when playing each hole. However, the Committee
may decide that they don’t want the entire prepared area treated as the putting
green. The Committee has the option to define an edge that divides the double
green into two distinct putting greens.
the Committee chooses to do so, this will make it so that when a player is
playing one of the holes, the part of the double green that belongs to the
other hole is a wrong green. This division of the double green is usually
accomplished with stakes or painted dots.
is a good idea to check with the Committee before playing a course with double
greens to see how those greens are treated.
putting green is a good place to be. You have done some things right to end up
there! With its special preparation comes special permissions that make the
putting green a relatively forgiving area of the course. There is more to the
putting green than was covered here – for more information, look
at Rule 13.
For more on the Rules of Golf, click here.