Putting greens are specially prepared for playing the ball along the ground and there is a flagstick for the hole on each putting green, so certain different Rules apply than for other areas of the course.
This Rule allows the player to do things on the putting green that are normally not allowed off the putting green, such as being allowed to mark, lift, clean and replace a ball and to repair damage and remove sand and loose soil on the putting green. There is no penalty for accidentally causing a ball or ball-marker to move on the putting green.
A ball is on the putting green when any part of the ball:
- Touches the putting green,or
- Lies on or in anything (such as a loose impediment or an obstruction) and is inside the edge of the putting green.
Marking, Lifting and Cleaning Ball on Putting Green
A ball on the putting green may be lifted and cleaned (see Rule 14.1).
The spot of the ball must be marked before it is lifted and the ball must be replaced on its original spot (see Rule 14.2).
Improvements Allowed on Putting Green
During a round and while play is stopped under Rule 5.7a, a player may take these two actions on the putting green, no matter whether the ball is on or off the putting green:
(1) Removal of Sand and Loose Soil. Sand and loose soil on the putting green (but not anywhere else on the course) may be removed without penalty.
(2) Repair of Damage. A player may repair damage on the putting green without penalty by taking reasonable actions to restore the putting green as nearly as possible to its original condition, but only:
- By using his or her hand, foot or other part of the body or a normal ball-mark repair tool, tee, club or similar item of normal equipment, and
- Without unreasonably delaying play (seeRule5.6a).
But if the player improves the putting green by taking actions that exceed what is reasonable to restore the putting green to its original condition (such as by creating a pathway to the hole or by using an object that is not allowed), the player gets the general penalty for breach of Rule 8.1a.
“Damage on the putting green” means any damage caused by a person or outside influence, such as:
- Ball marks, shoe damage (such as spike marks) and scrapes or indentations caused by equipment or a flagstick,
- Old hole plugs, turf plugs, seams of cut turf and scrapes or indentations from maintenance tools or vehicles,
- Animal tracks or hoof indentations, and
- Embedded objects (such as a stone, acorn or tee).
But “damage on the putting green” does not include any damage or conditions that result from:
- Normal practices for maintaining the overall condition of the putting green (such as aeration holes and grooves from vertical mowing),
- Irrigation or rain or other natural forces,
- Natural surface imperfections (such as weeds or areas of bare, diseased or uneven growth), or
- Natural wear of the hole