Rule 13 - Putting Greens

Purpose of Rule: Rule 13 is a specific Rule for putting greens. Putting greens are specially prepared for playing your ball along the ground and there is a flagstick for the hole on each putting green, so certain different Rules apply than for other areas of the course.

13.1  Actions Allowed or Required on Putting Greens

Purpose of Rule: This Rule allows you to do things on the putting green that are normally not allowed off the putting green, such as being allowed to mark, lift, clean and replace your ball and to repair damage and remove sand and loose soil on the putting green. There is no penalty for accidentally causing your ball or ball-marker to move on the putting green.

a. When Your Ball Is on Putting Green

Your ball is on the putting greenPutting Green: The area on the hole you are playing that is specially prepared for putting, or the Committee has defined as the putting green (such as when a temporary green is used). when any part of it:

b. Marking, Lifting and Cleaning Your Ball on Putting Green

Your ball on the putting greenPutting Green: The area on the hole you are playing that is specially prepared for putting, or the Committee has defined as the putting green (such as when a temporary green is used). may be lifted and cleaned. The spot of your ball must be markedMark: To show the spot where a ball is at rest by either placing a ball-marker right behind or right next to the ball, or holding a club on the ground right behind or right next to the ball. before it is lifted and the ball must be replacedReplace: To place a ball by setting it down and letting it go, with the intent for it to be in play..

c. Improvements Allowed on Putting Green

During a roundRound: 18 or fewer holes played in the order set by the Committee., you may take these two actions on the putting greenPutting Green: The area on the hole you are playing that is specially prepared for putting, or the Committee has defined as the putting green (such as when a temporary green is used)., no matter whether your ball is on or off the putting greenPutting Green: The area on the hole you are playing that is specially prepared for putting, or the Committee has defined as the putting green (such as when a temporary green is used).:

But if you improveImprove: To alter one or more of the conditions affecting your stroke or other physical conditions affecting your play so that you gain a potential advantage for your stroke. the putting greenPutting Green: The area on the hole you are playing that is specially prepared for putting, or the Committee has defined as the putting green (such as when a temporary green is used). by taking actions that exceed what is reasonable to restore the putting greenPutting Green: The area on the hole you are playing that is specially prepared for putting, or the Committee has defined as the putting green (such as when a temporary green is used). to its original condition, you get the general penaltyGeneral Penalty: Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play..

“Damage on the putting greenPutting Green: The area on the hole you are playing that is specially prepared for putting, or the Committee has defined as the putting green (such as when a temporary green is used). ” means any damage caused by a person or outside influenceOutside Influence: Any of these people or things that can affect what happens to your ball or equipment or to the course:, such as:

But “damage on the putting greenPutting Green: The area on the hole you are playing that is specially prepared for putting, or the Committee has defined as the putting green (such as when a temporary green is used). ” does not include any damage or conditions that result from:

d. When Your Ball or Ball-Marker Moves on Putting Green

There is no penalty if you, your opponentOpponent: The person you compete against in a match. The term opponent applies only in match play. or another player in stroke playStroke Play: A form of play where you or your side competes against all other players or sides in the competition. accidentally moveMoved: When your ball at rest has left its original spot and come to rest on any other spot, and this can be seen by the naked eye (whether or not anyone actually sees it do so). your ball or ball-markerBall-Marker: An artificial object when used to mark the spot of your ball to be lifted, such as a tee, a coin, an object made to be a ball-marker or another small piece of equipment. on the putting greenPutting Green: The area on the hole you are playing that is specially prepared for putting, or the Committee has defined as the putting green (such as when a temporary green is used)..

You must replaceReplace: To place a ball by setting it down and letting it go, with the intent for it to be in play. your ball on its original spot (which if not known must be estimated) or place a ball-markerBall-Marker: An artificial object when used to mark the spot of your ball to be lifted, such as a tee, a coin, an object made to be a ball-marker or another small piece of equipment. to mark that original spot.

Exception – Your Ball Must Be Played as It Lies When It Begins to Move During Your Backswing or Stroke and the Stroke Is Made.

If natural forcesNatural Forces: The effects of nature such as wind, water or when something happens for no apparent reason because of the effects of gravity. cause your ball on the putting greenPutting Green: The area on the hole you are playing that is specially prepared for putting, or the Committee has defined as the putting green (such as when a temporary green is used). to moveMoved: When your ball at rest has left its original spot and come to rest on any other spot, and this can be seen by the naked eye (whether or not anyone actually sees it do so)., where you must play from next depends on whether your ball had already been lifted and replacedReplace: To place a ball by setting it down and letting it go, with the intent for it to be in play. on its original spot:

e. No Deliberate Testing of Greens

If, during a roundRound: 18 or fewer holes played in the order set by the Committee., you deliberately rub the surface or roll a ball to test the putting greenPutting Green: The area on the hole you are playing that is specially prepared for putting, or the Committee has defined as the putting green (such as when a temporary green is used). or a wrong greenWrong Green: Any green on the course other than the putting green for the hole you are playing. Wrong greens are part of the general area., you get the general penaltyGeneral Penalty: Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play..

Exception – Testing Green of Hole Just Completed or Practice Green When between Two Holes is Allowed.

f. Relief Must Be Taken from Wrong Green

Interference under this Rule exists when your ball is on a wrong greenWrong Green: Any green on the course other than the putting green for the hole you are playing. Wrong greens are part of the general area. or a wrong greenWrong Green: Any green on the course other than the putting green for the hole you are playing. Wrong greens are part of the general area. physically interferes with your area of intended stanceStance: The position of your feet and body in preparing for and making your stroke. or area of intended swing.

When there is interference by a wrong greenWrong Green: Any green on the course other than the putting green for the hole you are playing. Wrong greens are part of the general area., you must not play the ball as it lies. Instead, you must take free relief by droppingDrop: To hold the ball and let go of it so that it falls through the air, with the intent for the ball to be in play. Each relief Rule identifies a specific relief area where your ball must be dropped and come to rest. the original ball or another ball in the relief areaRelief Area: The area where you must drop a ball when taking relief under a Rule. Each relief Rule requires you to use a specific relief area whose size and location are based on these three factors: as shown in Diagram 13.1f.

There is no relief under this Rule if interference exists only because you choose a club, type of stanceStance: The position of your feet and body in preparing for and making your stroke. or swing or direction of play that is clearly unreasonable under the circumstances.

Penalty for Playing Incorrectly SubstitutedSubstitute: To change the ball you are using to play a hole by having another ball become your ball in play. Ball or Playing Ball from a Wrong PlaceWrong Place: Any place on the course other than where you are required or allowed to play your ball under the Rules. in Breach of Rule 13.1: General PenaltyGeneral Penalty: Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play..

13.2 The Flagstick

Purpose of Rule: This Rule covers your choices for dealing with the flagstick. You may leave the flagstick in the hole or have it removed (which includes having someone attend the flagstick and remove it after your ball is played), but you must decide before making a stroke. There is normally no penalty if a ball in motion hits the flagstick.

This Rule applies to a ball played from anywhere on the courseCourse: The entire area of play within the edge of any boundaries set by the Committee. The boundary edge extends both up above the ground and down below the ground., whether on or off the putting greenPutting Green: The area on the hole you are playing that is specially prepared for putting, or the Committee has defined as the putting green (such as when a temporary green is used)..

a. Leaving Flagstick in Hole

If you make a strokeStroke: The forward movement of your club made to strike the ball. with the flagstickFlagstick: A movable pole provided by the Committee that is placed in the hole to show you where the hole is. left in the holeHole: The finishing point on the putting green for the hole you are playing. and the ball in motion then hits the flagstickFlagstick: A movable pole provided by the Committee that is placed in the hole to show you where the hole is., there is no penalty and the ball must be played as it lies.

The decision to have the flagstickFlagstick: A movable pole provided by the Committee that is placed in the hole to show you where the hole is. in the holeHole: The finishing point on the putting green for the hole you are playing. must be made before your strokeStroke: The forward movement of your club made to strike the ball., by either leaving the flagstickFlagstick: A movable pole provided by the Committee that is placed in the hole to show you where the hole is. in the hole or having a removed flagstickFlagstick: A movable pole provided by the Committee that is placed in the hole to show you where the hole is. put back.

In either case, you must not try to gain an advantage by deliberately moving the flagstickFlagstick: A movable pole provided by the Committee that is placed in the hole to show you where the hole is. to a position other than centred in the holeHole: The finishing point on the putting green for the hole you are playing.. If you do so and the ball in motion then hits the flagstickFlagstick: A movable pole provided by the Committee that is placed in the hole to show you where the hole is., you get the general penaltyGeneral Penalty: Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play..

 For information on moving or removing a flagstick left in the hole while a ball is in motion.

b. Removing Flagstick from Hole

You may make a strokeStroke: The forward movement of your club made to strike the ball. with the flagstickFlagstick: A movable pole provided by the Committee that is placed in the hole to show you where the hole is. removed from the holeHole: The finishing point on the putting green for the hole you are playing., so that your ball in motion will not hit the flagstickFlagstick: A movable pole provided by the Committee that is placed in the hole to show you where the hole is. in the hole.

You must decide this before making the strokeStroke: The forward movement of your club made to strike the ball., by either having the flagstickFlagstick: A movable pole provided by the Committee that is placed in the hole to show you where the hole is. removed from the holeHole: The finishing point on the putting green for the hole you are playing. before playing your ball, or authorizing someone to attend the flagstickFlagstick: A movable pole provided by the Committee that is placed in the hole to show you where the hole is..

 For situations where you are treated as having authorized the flagstick to be attended and for more information on what to do if your ball hits the flagstick or person who removed or is attending it.

c. Ball Resting Against Flagstick in Hole

If your ball comes to rest against the flagstickFlagstick: A movable pole provided by the Committee that is placed in the hole to show you where the hole is. left in the holeHole: The finishing point on the putting green for the hole you are playing., and any part of your ball is in the holeHole: The finishing point on the putting green for the hole you are playing. below the surface of the putting greenPutting Green: The area on the hole you are playing that is specially prepared for putting, or the Committee has defined as the putting green (such as when a temporary green is used)., your ball is treated as holedHoled: When your ball is at rest in the hole after your stroke and the entire ball is below the surface of the putting green. When the Rules refer to “holing out” or “hole out,” it means when your ball is holed..

If no part of your ball is in the holeHole: The finishing point on the putting green for the hole you are playing. below the surface of the putting greenPutting Green: The area on the hole you are playing that is specially prepared for putting, or the Committee has defined as the putting green (such as when a temporary green is used).:

Penalty for Playing Incorrectly SubstitutedSubstitute: To change the ball you are using to play a hole by having another ball become your ball in play. Ball or Playing Ball from a Wrong PlaceWrong Place: Any place on the course other than where you are required or allowed to play your ball under the Rules. in Breach of Rule 13.2c: General PenaltyGeneral Penalty: Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play..

13.3  Ball Overhanging Hole

a. Waiting Time to See If Your Ball Overhanging Hole Will Fall into Hole

If any part of your ball overhangs the lip of the holeHole: The finishing point on the putting green for the hole you are playing., you are allowed a reasonable time to reach the holeHole: The finishing point on the putting green for the hole you are playing. and ten more seconds to wait to see whether your ball will fall into the holeHole: The finishing point on the putting green for the hole you are playing..

If your ball falls into the holeHole: The finishing point on the putting green for the hole you are playing. in this waiting time, you have holed outHoled: When your ball is at rest in the hole after your stroke and the entire ball is below the surface of the putting green. When the Rules refer to “holing out” or “hole out,” it means when your ball is holed. with the previous strokeStroke: The forward movement of your club made to strike the ball..

If your ball does not fall into the holeHole: The finishing point on the putting green for the hole you are playing. in this waiting time:

b. What to Do If Your Ball Overhanging Hole Is Lifted or Moved Before Waiting Time Has Ended

 For information on what to do if your ball overhanging the hole is lifted or moved before the 10-second waiting time has ended.