Rules FAQ


Rule 16-1

USGA Position on Spikemarks

Q.  What is the USGA position on spikemarks?

A.  The Rules of Golf are based on two fundamental principles: (1) play the ball as it lies and (2) play the course as you find it. Permitting the repair of spike marks on a player`s line of play or putt would be contrary to these fundamental principles. Rule 16-1c permits the repair of old hole plugs and ball marks but does not permit the repair of spike damage or other irregularities of surface on the putting green if they are on a player`s line of play or putt or might assist him in his subsequent play of the hole. The distinction lies in the fact that old hole plugs and ball marks are easily identifiable as such, whereas it is impossible to differentiate between spike damage and other irregularities of surface on the putting green. Permitting the repair of spike marks would also inevitably lead to a slower place of play. Please note that proper etiquette recommends that damage to the putting green caused by golf shoe spikes be repaired on completion of the hole by all players, just as a player should fill up and smooth over all holes and footprints made by him before leaving a bunker. We feel that improved education and players` consideration for others rather than a change in the Rules of Golf is the proper solution to the problem.


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