Rules Corner

Practice Putting After Completion Of The Hole

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July 15, 2012

By John Van der Borght, USGA

Lake Orion – When Tom Watson completed play of the 11th hole of the final round of the U.S. Senior Open, he looked behind him and made sure that the group behind was not waiting. He then took a practice putt. His fellow competitor, Gary Hallberg, was surprised and asked the accompanying referee if this was allowed.

The referee explained that Rule 7-2a allows a player to practice on the putting green of the hole last played as along as play was not unduly delayed. Since the group was 15 minutes ahead of the pace of play and the group behind was not yet at their drives, there was no delay.

The reason Hallberg was surprised by this is that the PGA Tour prohibits this type of practice as they are permitted to do by Note 2 to Rule 7.  Note 2 allows the Committee to prohibit practice on or near the putting green of the hole last played and to prohibit rolling of balls on that putting green.

So unless the Committee prohibits it, you may practice putting on the putting green of the hole just completed as long as you don’t unduly delay play. If you do hold up the players behind you or cause your group to get behind, it would be a penalty under Rule 6-7.

For more information on the Rules of Golf, go to the Rules of Golf page at or watch the Rules of Golf videos at

Written by John Van der Borght, manager of rules communications for the USGA.


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