Rules Corner

Rules: Rub Of The Green

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July 13, 2012
John Van der Borght, USGA

Rub of the green is a term that has been a part of the game of golf since the earliest versions of the Rules. Simply put, it means any time a ball in motion after a stroke strikes an outside agency. Outside agencies are anything or anyone that is not a part of a player’s match or the player’s side in stroke play. A tree is as much an outside agency as a spectator or a fellow-competitor in stroke play. Rule 19-1 says that anytime a ball in motion strikes an outside agency it is a rub of the green and the ball is played as it lies.


Many golfers think of a rub of the green as only a bad thing. But it can also be a good thing.

During the second round of the U.S. Senior Open, Kirk Maynord’s tee shot on the par 4 12th hole was hooked toward a lake that runs down the left side of the fairway. When the group arrived in the landing zone, the players were surprised to see Maynord’s ball in the rough short of the water. Maynord told the marshal he was surprised that the ball hadn’t reached the water. The marshal replied that it did go into the hazard on its first bounce.  Within the hazard is a large 4-foot diameter metal pipe sticking straight out of the water.  The ball had struck the pipe and bounced backward onto dry ground outside the hazard.

Maynord tried to make the best of the good break, but his second shot came up short of the green and he went on to make a bogey 5.

Remember that when you get that good bounce off a tree back into the fairway, it is just as much a “rub of the green” as when you get the bad bounce off the cart path into a water hazard.

John Van der Borght is a manager of Rules education. For more information on the Rules of Golf, go to the Rules of Golf page at or watch the Rules of Golf videos at 

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