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Major Change: When to Replace a Ball That Moves on a Putting GreenGolf's New Rules

Golf's New Rules: Major Changes

New Rule: Rule 13.1d revises the procedure for when a ball on the putting green is moved by wind, water or other natural forces, so that it must sometimes be replaced and sometimes be played from its new spot:

  • If the ball had been lifted and replaced on its original spot before it moved, the ball must always be replaced on its original spot, regardless of what caused it to move.
  • The ball must be played from its new spot only if the ball had not been lifted and replaced before it moved.

Reasons for Change:

When a ball at rest is moved by natural forces such as the wind, it is normally played as it lies because its movement is considered a continuation of the previous stroke, as no person or object affected where the ball lies.

But when the moved ball had already been lifted and replaced, the connection to the previous stroke is no longer obvious.

This is especially true on the putting green, where a player is allowed to mark, lift and replace a ball for any reason and many players do so as a matter of course.

When a ball on the green moves after having come to rest:

  • It can result in outcomes that seem unfair, such as when the ball rolls off the green (sometimes ending up in a bunker or in water) or rolls close to or into the hole.
  • Requiring the ball to be replaced if it had already been lifted and replaced eliminates such outcomes in those situations.