There are certain things you can and cannot do on the putting green. Rule 16, The Putting Green, covers only a few of them. Some of these things have been covered before in this weekly series, but here is the putting green collection of rules all in one place. Hopefully, most of it is familiar to you already.
You may lift your ball after marking it and clean it if you wish to (16-1b).
If the ball, after it has been replaced, moves accidentally in picking up the marker, the ball must be replaced and there is no penalty (20-3a). A ball on the green may not be touched if it is not marked – one-stroke penalty (18-2a).
You may repair old hole plugs, ball marks, and damage to the green caused by the impact of the ball, but no other damage that might assist subsequent play (such as a damaged lip on the hole) (16-1c).
If you play a stroke when your ball is on the putting green and your ball hits another ball that is on the putting green, you incur a two-stroke penalty. The ball you hit must be replaced, and you play your ball from where it came to rest. (19-5a) If your ball was not on the putting green and it hit a ball that was, proceed as before, but there is no penalty.
If there is causal water on the green between your ball and the hole, you can lift your ball and place it on the nearest spot that provides you relief, but not nearer to the hole. That spot might not be on the putting green, but may not be in a hazard. (25-1)
If you hit your ball onto the wrong putting green (one that is not part of the hole you’re playing), you may not play the ball from there. You must take relief. Lift the ball and drop it one club-length from the nearest point of relief, which point may not be in a hazard or on the putting green. (25-3)
You may not use a “putting ball” when you reach the green. You must putt and hole out with the ball you teed off with, or put into play because the original ball became lost, out of bounds, unfit for play, or substituted according to the rules. (15-1)
You may not stand astride the line of your putt when making a stroke. Two-stroke penalty if you do. This rule effectively bans croquet-style putting. You may stand astride a line connecting the ball and the hole if this is not the line of your putt. If you take a stance astride the line of your putt to avoid interfering with another player’s line, there is no penalty. (16-1e)
The person attending the flagstick may not be hit by the ball by a stroke made on the putting green. Two-stroke penalty. (17-3)
Sand that has spilled onto the surface of the putting green is a loose impediment (Definitions) and may be removed without penalty. (24-1)
A ball is holed out when it comes to rest within the circumference of the hole and all of it lies below the level of the lip of the hole. (Definitions)
If a ball comes to rest between the flagstick and the lip of the hole and is not holed out according to definition, the player may move or remove the flagstick. If the ball falls in the hole, the ball is considered to have been holed with his last stroke. Otherwise, the player must replace the ball on the lip of the hole and play without penalty. (17-4)
You may not touch the line of your putt (two-stroke penalty) except to remove loose impediments, repairing the green, measuring, replacing the ball, or pressing down a ball-marker. You may rest your putter on the green in front of your ball while addressing it as long as you do not press anything down. (16-1a)
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