Thursday, April 7, 2011

Ask Linda #288-Is a putter a flagstick?

Good morning Linda,
I hope you are doing fine and that the weather is picking up again. I have another question for you.
On the putting green, the flagstick has been put aside on the apron. It is A’s turn to putt. To save time, A asks his fellow competitor B to indicate the position of the hole with his putter.
A putts and his ball touches B’s putter. B was distracted and did not remove his putter in time.

It may seems reasonable to say that the putter used to indicate the position of the hole has the same status as a flagstick, although the definition of a flagstick does not match the looks of a putter. This would result in a 2-stroke penalty for A (in stroke play).
It seems reasonable as well to say that the putter belongs to B’s equipment and thus A’s ball in motion is deflected by B’s equipment, Rule 19-4 which refers then to Rule 19-1b (deflected on the putting green by an outside agency), resulting in no penalty for both players.
What do you think? What would be the ruling in Match Play?

Looking forward to your opinion,
Kind regards,

Dear Lulu,
Decision 17-3/6 deals with this exact situation. When a putter is used to mark the position of the hole, it has the status of a flagstick. Therefore, if a player’s putt hits the putter that is serving as a flagstick, then in stroke play there is a two-stroke penalty and the ball must be played as it lies. In match play, the penalty is loss of hole [Rule 17-3].

This is a good opportunity to remind players that tending the flagstick is a serious responsibility. You must stand perfectly still and pay close attention until the ball is putted. As soon as the ball is in motion, it is best to remove the flagstick and walk away from the hole, always keeping an eye out for the moving ball. You also want to be careful not to tread on anyone else’s line of putt as you move away from the hole.

I am not fond of players who don’t remove the flagstick until the last possible second and who remain standing next to the hole as the putt goes by. It makes the person putting unnecessarily nervous, and it runs the risk of a penalty for the blameless person who trusted you to attend properly. It can also block the player’s view of how the putt breaks beyond the hole.

Copyright © 2011 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.