Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Ask Linda #1227-Continuous putting

Dear readers,
Please revisit yesterday's column (#1226). It has a new title ("Replace incorrectly substituted ball"), and the reference in my answer to "wrong ball" has been changed to "incorrectly substituted ball." I was using "wrong" in its traditional meaning of "incorrect," but an astute reader graciously pointed out that "wrong" has a narrowly defined meaning in golf, and that I might be misleading you by using that particular word.

Hi Linda,

We have very firm putting surfaces – only soft spikes allowed. In the interests of speeding up play, players will sometimes (often) request permission to putt out, particularly when the putts are short, i.e., less than 2 feet.

In playing at other clubs, I have found that this seems to be common practice. Always we ask. I've never seen any damage done by soft spikes on a firm surface.

Is this a big breach of etiquette?

Also... I know you are not allowed to touch the line of your own putt. Does this include accidentally walking on it?

Lulu from Australia

Dear Lulu,

The answer depends on your form of play.

In match play, order of play should be observed. If your putt is not conceded, you should mark your ball and wait your turn. If you putt out of turn, there is no penalty, but your opponent is entitled to recall your putt (make you do it over in proper order). When I play a match, if my opponent asks my permission to putt out, I deny it – if it’s close enough to concede, I will tell her to pick up the ball; if it’s not, it is to my advantage to make her mark and wait, so I deny the request. A player who expects to putt continuously in match play does not understand the nature of the competition [Rule 10-1c].

In stroke play, there is no penalty for continuous putting. In the interest of pace of play, completing the hole when you have a short putt left should be encouraged [Rule 10-2c].

There is no penalty for accidentally stepping on your line of putt unless it is clear that you improved your line by doing so [Decision 16-1a/12].


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