November 15, 2018

2019 Rules of Golf - Relaxed Putting Green Rules

Reduced Penalties on the Putting Green

The authors of the 2019 Rules of Golf have relaxed many of the old prohibitions when your ball lies on the putting. Let’s examine the changes on the putting green in the new 2019 Rules.

Repair of Damage – While you still will be allowed to repair ball marks and old hole plugs, the major change on the putting green is that you will be allowed to repair spike marks and damage caused by animals, shoes or maintenance practices. You may not repair natural surface imperfections, aerification holes, and diseased areas. Video

Touching Line of Play – In the past you, your partner, and your caddie were not allowed to touch the putting green to indicate an aim point or where you think your line of putt is; however, in 2019 there is no prohibition on touching the surface of the green to indicate your line of play. The putting green may be touched with a hand, club, foot, club, flagstick, etc. to point out your line of play or where to aim. The object used to touch the putting green must not be left in that position while the stroke is being made. 

Leaving Flagstick in Hole – Before making a stroke, the player must decide whether they would like the flagstick to remain in the hole, be attended, or be removed. Once a stroke is made, the flagstick must remain in the condition it was when the stroke was made. New for 2019 is that players may leave the flagstick in the hole when their ball is on the putting green and there is no penalty when the ball strikes the flagstick (when left in the hole).

Click here to watch a video on the above Rules. Click here for an additional video on the flagstick

Accidental Movement of Ball – The current Local Rule specifying there is no penalty when a ball is accidentally moved on the putting green has been added into the 2019 Rules of Golf. Anytime your ball is accidentally moved on the putting green there is no penalty and just replace the ball. Dustin Johnson, Davis Love III, and many others would have benefited if this Rule was in place years ago! Video

Ball Striking Removed Flagstick or Equipment – When a stroke is made from the putting green and the ball strikes a removed flagstick, any equipment, any movable obstructions, an animal, or any person (besides someone attending the flagstick) there is no penalty, the stroke is cancelled and must be replayed.

Natural Forces – If a ball is moved by natural forces (wind, water, or gravity) you must play the ball from where it comes to rest with one exception. The exception is that if the ball has been lifted and then replaced, and the ball is then moved by natural forces, the player must replace the ball to where it was moved from. Essentially, once you mark and lift your ball you have reserved that spot for the next stroke. Video

Ball Resting Against Flagstick – In 2019, when the flagstick is in the hole and a ball is resting against it, the ball is consider “holed” if any part of the ball is below the surface of the putting green.

We have less than 50 days until the 2019 Rules go in effect so starting learning now!

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