Rules Throwback: Continuous Putting
December 1, 2016
By Jamie Wallace, USGA
Anyone who has followed the evolution of the Rules of Golf knows that the Rules have been far from static. Among the countless additions, removals and edits over the years is something that was known as the “continuous putting rule,” put in place for the purpose of improving pace of play.
Continuous putting was introduced to the Rules as an optional Local Rule in 1966, became a Rule in 1968, and was rescinded from the Rules in 1970. It applied to single stroke play only, and essentially provided that once a player has begun putting on a hole, they must continue putting until the ball is holed. There was consideration for the fact that this could mean a player would be standing on a fellow competitor’s putting line. A fellow competitor could request to have the player’s ball lifted and thus interrupt their continuous putting.
Included within this Rule was a clause that only allowed a ball on the putting green to be lifted and cleaned prior to the first putt. After striking the first putt, the ball could not be lifted until it was holed (except as described in the exception above). This prohibition on lifting and cleaning applied to all forms of play, not just stroke play.
The USGA adopted the Local Rule in the 1966 U.S. Open, as shown in the video above. Arnold Palmer and Billy Casper were tied playing the 72nd hole at The Olympic Club’s Lake Course. Palmer had a longer putt for birdie than Casper and then was required to finish out his par putt prior to Casper striking his birdie putt. They ended up tied after 72 holes, and Casper won by four strokes in the following day’s 18-hole playoff.
Jamie Wallace is the manager of Rules education and digital content for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.