Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Ask Linda #1348-Move ball marker; Ground putter in front of ball

Hi Linda,
I am new to your wonderful Rules blog and have learned a lot in a short period of time.
I have two questions with regard to putting and the putting green.

1. I have seen pros on TV, when asked by their opponent to move their ball, they mark their ball and pick out an object to line up their replaced marker so that it can be returned to the previous spot. However, I cannot find that rule anywhere in the Rules of Golf. Is this a procedure that must be followed if asked to move your ball on the green?

2. I believe that a player or a player's caddie cannot touch the putting surface with a finger, towel, club, etc., to indicate where the player should roll his ball, but I have seen a player ground his putter in front of the ball and then return it behind the ball and then putt, it this legal?

Lulu from Georgia

Dear Lulu,

#1: When a player is asked to move her ball marker one or more clubhead-lengths to the side because it interferes with another player’s putt, she must replace that marker before she putts. If she does not line up that move with a stationary object, how will she be able to correctly replace it? The Rules do not specify a procedure for moving the ball, but the expectation that it will be correctly replaced assumes an accurate procedure for doing so. While it is not required, I always advise players to announce the object they are sighting to line up the move so as to avoid subsequent arguments.

#2: The player may ground her club lightly in front of the ball prior to putting, provided she does not press anything down [Rule 16-1a (ii)]. The penalty for pressing something down is two strokes in stroke play, loss of hole in match play [Rule 13-2].
    Your understanding that the player, her partner, or either of their caddies may not touch the green to indicate the line of putt is correct. The penalty is two strokes in stroke play, loss of hole in match play [Rule 8-2b].

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