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
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 http://www.usga.org or watch the Rules of Golf videos at http://www.usga-rules.com/.
Written by John Van
der Borght, manager of rules communications for the USGA.