Golf Rule 16, The Putting Green

    16-1. The player is allowed to touch the line of his putt (without pressing anything down) to:



  • Move loose impediments
  • Measure the putt to determine who is away (farthest from the hole)
  • Pick up or place his ball
  • Tamp down a ball marker
  • Repair pitch marks or plugged holes on the green
  • Remove a movable obstruction
  • The player can also place the clubhead in front of the ball at address.

    On the green, a player can pick up and clean his ball as long as he marks it, then replaces it in the same spot. He can’t mark and pick up his ball, however, if it’s on the line of another ball in motion.

    A player is allowed to repair pitch marks and plugged holes on the green, even if his ball lies off the green.

    Before holing out, players cannot test a green by rolling a ball on it or rubbing it. Players may putt on a green once they’ve finished the hole.

    When addressing a putt, the player can’t straddle the line or place either foot directly on the line or an extension of the line behind the ball.

  • Exception: There’s no penalty if the player does this inadvertently or to avoid stepping on another golfer’s line.
  • Example: Wayne’s ball lies inches from the cup and he prefers to putt out rather than mark it. Taking a normal stance would put his feet directly on Sean’s line, so Wayne straddles his own line, avoiding Sean’s, and taps in. There is no penalty.
  • Unless it is his turn to play, a golfer can’t hit his putt while another player’s ball is in motion

  • Penalties for violating Rule 16-1: Match play – loss of hole. Stroke play – two strokes.
  • 16-2. If a player’s ball hangs over the lip of the cup, he’s allowed reasonable time to reach the hole plus 10 seconds to wait for the ball to drop into the hole. If it doesn’t, the ball is considered at rest and the player must putt out.

    16-1. General
    a. Touching Line of Putt

    The line of putt must not be touched except:(i) the player may remove loose impediments, provided he does not press anything down;
    (ii) the player may place the club in front of the ball when addressing it, provided he does not press anything down;
    (iii) in measuring – Rule 18-6;
    (iv) in lifting or replacing the ball – Rule 16-1b;
    (v) in pressing down a ball-marker;
    (vi) in repairing old hole plugs or ball marks on the putting green – Rule 16-1c; and
    (vii) in removing movable obstructions – Rule 24-1.

    (Indicating line for putting on putting green – see Rule 8-2b)

    b. Lifting and Cleaning Ball
    A ball on the putting green may be lifted and, if desired, cleaned. The position of the ball must be marked before it is lifted and the ball must be replaced (see Rule 20-1). When another ball is in motion, a ball that might influence the movement of the ball in motion must not be lifted.

    c. Repair of Hole Plugs, Ball Marks and Other Damage
    The player may repair an old hole plug or damage to the putting green caused by the impact of a ball, whether or not the player’s ball lies on the putting green. If a ball or ball-marker is accidentally moved in the process of the repair, the ball or ball-marker must be replaced. There is no penalty, provided the movement of the ball or ball-marker is directly attributable to the specific act of repairing an old hole plug or damage to the putting green caused by the impact of a ball. Otherwise, Rule 18 applies.

    Any other damage to the putting green must not be repaired if it might assist the player in his subsequent play of the hole.

    d. Testing Surface
    During the stipulated round, a player must not test the surface of any putting green by rolling a ball or roughening or scraping the surface.

    Exception: Between the play of two holes, a player may test the surface of any practice putting green and the putting green of the hole last played, unless the Committee has prohibited such action (see Note 2 to Rule 7-2).

    e. Standing Astride or on Line of Putt
    The player must not make a stroke on the putting green from a stance astride, or with either foot touching, the line of putt or an extension of that line behind the ball.

    Exception: There is no penalty if the stance is inadvertently taken on or astride the line of putt (or an extension of that line behind the ball) or is taken to avoid standing on another player’s line of putt or prospective line of putt.

    f. Making Stroke While Another Ball in Motion
    The player must not make a stroke while another ball is in motion after a stroke from the putting green, except that if a player does so, there is no penalty if it was his turn to play.

    (Lifting ball assisting or interfering with play while another ball in motion – see Rule 22)

    PENALTY FOR BREACH OF RULE 16-1:Match play – Loss of hole; Stroke play – Two strokes.

    (Position of caddie or partner – see Rule 14-2)

    (Wrong putting green – see Rule 25-3)

    16-2. Ball Overhanging Hole
    When any part of the ball overhangs the lip of the hole, the player is allowed enough time to reach the hole without unreasonable delay and an additional ten seconds to determine whether the ball is at rest. If by then the ball has not fallen into the hole, it is deemed to be at rest. If the ball subsequently falls into the hole, the player is deemed to have holed out with his last stroke, and must add a penalty stroke to his score for the hole; otherwise, there is no penalty under this Rule.

    (Undue delay – see Rule 6-7)