Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Ask Linda #1640-Hole liner comes out when flagstick removed

Hi Linda,
I was playing a social match-play game. The greens had recently been sanded. On the 6th green my opponent attended the flagstick for my 30ft putt. When he tried to pull the flagstick he found it was stuck due to the sand (normally pulls easily). Struggling and running out of time, with a strong yank he pulled the metal hole sleeve up half an inch out of the ground forming a lip which my ball then hit and rebounded off. In normal circumstances, arguably, my putt may have dropped or rimmed out. 

I have asked several pros who are at a loss to give a ruling. This never happens in pro games as the caddies always pull the flag before the putt to avoid a penalty. 

Can you please provide a ruling? 

Lou from the Algarve region in Portugal

Dear Lou,

The hole liner is an outside agency. If it is moving when your ball hits it, you must cancel the stroke, replace the ball, and replay it. Do not count the stroke that hit the moving liner.

If the raised hole liner is stationary when your ball hits it, you must play the ball as it lies after hitting the liner.

Please direct all the pros you questioned to Decision 17/8, which provides the ruling for precisely this situation.

This occurrence is completely avoidable. Any person asked to attend a flagstick should make sure he can remove it easily before the player putts the ball. I recommend lifting it out of the hole and resting the bottom of the flagstick in the cup but outside the hole. And pay attention to the putter! Remove the flagstick while the ball is in motion and step away from the hole so that the player putting may see the break past the hole.

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