What Are You Allowed To Fix On The Green?

Ryan Rustand

Ryan Rustand

SwingU Instructor

In 2019, some big changes were made on the putting green in regards to the Rules of the game. In this case, SwingU instructor Ryan Rustand fills us in on one of these changes. As of January 2019, you are able to repair almost any damage done to a green as long as it is not due to aeration, or natural imperfections.

2019 Rule: Rule 13.1c(2) allows repair of almost any damage on the green: “Damage on the putting green” will be defined to include all types of damage (such as ball-marks, shoe damage, indentations from a club or flagstick, animal damage, etc.), except aeration holes, natural surface imperfections or natural wear of the hole.

Reasons for Change

Because putting greens are specially prepared for playing the ball along the ground, the Rules allow the player to do things on the green that are not allowed anywhere else:

  • The player may mark, lift and clean a ball on the green at any time, remove sand and loose soil on the green and repair old hole plugs and ball-marks on the green.
    Given this philosophy of allowing players to try to have a smooth surface for rolling the ball, there is no conceptual reason for prohibiting repair of other types of damage (whether made by players, animals, maintenance staff, etc.).
  • This Rule change will eliminate the frequent questions among players and referees about whether a particular area of damage on the green is a ball-mark that may be repaired or is a shoe mark or other damage that must not be repaired.
  • The concern has been noted that allowing repair of all damage on the putting green could slow down play if players try to repair too many areas; but we believe this is unlikely to be true for most players and that the Rule against unreasonable delay (as well as a Committee’s pace of play policy) can be used to address situations where a player seeks to make excessive repairs.