Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Ask Linda #780-Walk on direct line to hole

Dear Linda,
I just watched a PGA player (Zach Johnson) walk on the line between his ball and the hole (see 4th round, John Deere, 7th hole). The arc of his putt was outside the line between his ball and the hole, but isn't this still a penalty? 
Thanks for the info,
Lou from NJ 

Dear Lou,

A player is not permitted to touch his line of putt (with several exceptions, such as fixing ball marks – see Rule 16-1). “Walking” is the same as “touching.”

So the question is: Did Zach Johnson walk on his line of putt? For the answer, we need to look at the Definitions in Section II at the front of your rulebook. According to the Definition, the “line of putt” is the path the ball will take from where it lies on the green into the hole. That path is seldom a straight line, as most greens come with contours and breaks.

I did not witness Mr. Johnson’s putt, but from your narrative it would seem that his line of putt was a distinct curve from ball to hole. If he were to walk on this curve, he would incur a two-stroke penalty. However, he apparently walked on a direct line from his ball to the hole. As this was not his line of putt, he incurred no penalty.

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