Friday, February 7, 2014

Ask Linda #790-Move ball on green

Hi Linda,

This situation actually occurred last week. My opponent missed his par putt and had a putt of less than a foot left. He was going to putt out with the line of the putt between his legs and his back toward the hole. I stopped him because he was putting astride. He stopped his motion but while taking his normal stance he inadvertently moved the ball. Without replacing the ball he putted out, saying he made a six.

There was huge discussion after the round. The player said he made a six, I said he made an eight because of the two-stroke penalty for not replacing the ball, and another player said he made a seven because the movement of the ball and the non-replacement just constituted one violation thus a one-stroke penalty. What is the correct score and what is the ruling?

The player also maintains that the putting astride rule only applies when you are facing the hole.

Lou from Manila, Philippines

Dear Lou,

A player is not permitted to stand astride his line of putt when he putts his ball [Rule 16-1e]. Regardless of which way he is facing, standing astride means precisely that. The penalty is two strokes (loss of hole in match play). [Please read Ask Linda #790a, posted on February 9, for an exception to this Rule.]

When the player moved the ball, he incurred a one-stroke penalty. If he did not replace the ball before hitting it, the penalty increased to two strokes [Rule 18-2a].

If it took the player six strokes to get the ball into the hole, his score was eight.

It never ceases to amaze me how careless some players get on the putting green. Putts that finish close to the hole do not need to be studied for an appreciable amount of time, but standing in any other way than your normal putting stance is just asking for trouble.

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