Monday, May 10, 2010

Ask Linda #202-Relief procedures on putting green

Hi Linda,

I was the marker for a player whose ball was on the green. She indicated that she was taking relief as there was a metal plate on her line of putt. She intended to move her ball to the left.

She then proceeded to measure a hand span with her right hand, the ball resting in front of her little finger and her thumb marking the intended spot to replace her ball.

She then raised all of her hand except the thumb, then picked up the ball with her left hand and placed it in front of her thumb.

I questioned her method and the fact that the ball was lifted without a marker being in place.

What would the ruling be and would there be any penalty?


Dear Lulu,

The player did nothing wrong, and therefore did not incur any penalty whatsoever.

Rule 24-2b(iii) states that if a player’s ball lies on the putting green and an immovable obstruction (the metal plate you described) intervenes on her line of putt, then “the player must lift the ball and place it, without penalty, at the nearest point of relief [NPR] that is not in a hazard.” Note that the NPR must be no closer to the hole, and that it might very well be off the green.

The rule does not require the player to mark the ball before moving it. That being said, the recommended procedure for a careful player would be as follows:

(1) Mark the position of the ball.

(2) Find the nearest point of relief, no closer to the hole, where the immovable obstruction (or ground under repair) would not interfere with the line on which the player plans to putt her ball.

(3) Place a marker at the new spot.

(4) Verify with another golfer that the spot is correct.

(5) Pick up the ball and place it in front of the marker.

The “pinky to thumb” measuring procedure that the player used is acceptable, even though a bit unconventional. As long as the spot to which she moved her ball is the nearest spot that will provide complete relief from the metal place and is no closer to the hole, then she has met the requirements of the Rule and has incurred no penalty.

Players who use no marking procedure and simply lift the ball and place it elsewhere have proceeded correctly, as long as the spot they choose is the

nearest one that gives them complete relief and is no closer to the hole. This is fine for casual play, but I would recommend the marking method described above for tournament play.


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