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Fixing the golf hole with your hand or finger(s)?


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Is this legal - before you putt out? Before putting out, you notice that there is a small imperfection with the golf hole. Like where a golfer removing the flag knicks the lip and causes a small abrasion. Can you fix this with your hand and or tap it with your fingers before putting out?
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[url=http://lindamillergolf.blogspot.com/2008/01/ask-linda-24-repairing-damaged-hole.html]This page jumped to mind[/url]: [quote]Dear Linda, I was lining up my putt when I noticed that there was some damage around the hole. I think someone in a prior group may have accidentally raised a chunk of turf at the edge of the hole, perhaps caused by removing a ball with a putter. I patted the turf back down before I putted. My partner told me after the round I am not allowed to do that. Was she right? Lulu Hi Lulu, Your partner was absolutely correct, dear. [b]The hole is considered to be on your line of putt, and you are not allowed to repair anything on that line except for ball marks and old hole plugs.[/b][/quote] So, no. It seems pretty clear from the definition of "line of putt" that the hole itself is included in it: [quote]The "line of putt" is the line that the player wishes his ball to take after a stroke on the putting green. Except with respect to Rule 16-1e, the line of putt includes a reasonable distance on either side of the intended line. The line of putt does not extend beyond the hole.[/quote] Your intended line obviously leads to the hole, and "reasonable distance on either side" definitely includes just two or three inches, which includes the entire hole.
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Originally Posted by Beachcomber

Is this legal - before you putt out? Before putting out, you notice that there is a small imperfection with the golf hole. Like where a golfer removing the flag knicks the lip and causes a small abrasion. Can you fix this with your hand and or tap it with your fingers before putting out?



No.  If it's a competition, then someone from the competition committee should be notified to repair it.  If not, then notify the golf shop as soon as possible so they can have someone come out and cut a new hole and repair the old one.

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what about after you putt out?? I, and I have seen many other players do this, use the ball to even out the lip as you pull your ball from the hole from the inside. Not tap it down, but tap the dirt under the turf line. As I am one of the early birds, I find it isn't necessary these days as new holes are cut before each round, but will do it if Im having a practice round in the afternoon just to fix up someone else's carelessness. I know the social round is just that, but there may come a time when I may have to do this during a comp in the future.

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Decision: 16-1a/6

Q: Prior to putting, a player discovers that the hole has been damaged. What is the proper procedure?

A: If the damage is clearly identifiable as a ball mark, the player may repair it (Rule 16-1c).

If the damage is not clearly identifiable as a ball mark, then:

If the damage is such that the proper dimensions of the hole have not been changed materially, the player should continue play without repairing the hole. If he touches the hole in such circumstances, a breach of Rule 16-1a occurs.

If the proper dimensions of the hole have been changed materially, the player should request the Committee to have the hole repaired. If a Committee Member is not readily available, the player may repair the damage, without penalty.

If a player repairs a materially damaged hole when a Committee Member is readily available, he incurs a penalty for a breach of Rule 16-1a.

Depending on damage, you are actually allowed to repair it yourself. And if the committee is not readily available then also.

On casual rounds you do what you know would be best for the other players. If there is slight damage, you can try to fix it. If it is major damage, then call the shop.

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Originally Posted by michaeljames92

Occasionally a ball can cause a dent in the hole. Who says that any round gash on the hole wasn't caused by a ball?


Per the decision quoted above, it must be clearly identifiable as a ball mark. If you can't be all but certain that it's a ball mark, you may not assume that it is one just because it may be.

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Originally Posted by mymizunosrock

what about after you putt out?? I, and I have seen many other players do this, use the ball to even out the lip as you pull your ball from the hole from the inside. Not tap it down, but tap the dirt under the turf line. As I am one of the early birds, I find it isn't necessary these days as new holes are cut before each round, but will do it if Im having a practice round in the afternoon just to fix up someone else's carelessness. I know the social round is just that, but there may come a time when I may have to do this during a comp in the future.

When the entire group has holed out it is more than recommended to smooth a ragged edge of a hole but before that the answer depends on your motives:

1-2/3.5  Player Repairs Hole After Holing Out But Before Opponent, Fellow-Competitor or Partner Holes Out

Q. After holing out, a player observes that the edge of the hole is ragged. He pats the ragged edge with his hand and smoothes it. Does the player incur a penalty under Rule 1-2 if his opponent, fellow-competitor or partner has not holed out?

A. If the player smoothed the edge of the hole as a courtesy to the players in following groups or for the care of the course, he was not in breach of Rule 1-2 . However, if the player’s primary purpose in smoothing the ragged edge was to influence the movement of his opponent’s, fellow-competitor’s, or partner’s ball, he was in breach of 1-2 .

As the player had holed out, he is not subject to penalty under Rule 16-1a or Rule 13-2 .

In a four-ball competition, if the player’s partner had not completed play of the hole, the partner incurs the penalty for a breach of Rule 16-1a – See Definition of “Partner” . (Revised)

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you fix anything on the hole until you have putted out,  Once you have you can fix the mark for your playing partners.  Most people do it with the ball, but i dont think it matters because you are done the hole, and can touch the green if you like

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Originally Posted by Tiger90

you fix anything on the hole until you have putted out,  Once you have you can fix the mark for your playing partners.  Most people do it with the ball, but i dont think it matters because you are done the hole, and can touch the green if you like



I think you should have read the decision posted by Ignorant before posting this.

Why do you say that after putting out it is ok to touch the green? Is it ok to alter the path of other players in your group when they are still to putt?

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By touching the green you can see which way the grain is going, or just get a better feel for the green.  It really all depends on your intentions in the end.

But the reason you can do this or fix the hole after you put out, is because you no longer have to putt on THIS specific green and the feel may be different on other greens.  So i guess by feeling this green, it doesnt really help you on the other greens (even though they should all be the same).   But yeah, the reason is because you are done with that green and it shouldnt really help you later on.

And like Ignorant said, if your intention is to hurt the other players putt, then you will get a penalty stroke, but if there is a bump on the hole, and you fix it after you putt out, thats fine.  Im sure your playing partner wont complain.  And a lot of the time, if you putt out and there is a bump, the other player will ask you to fix the hole, because they still have to put and cannot touch the hole.    You dont have to fix it if you dont want to, altough that would not be such a nice thing to do lol.

Side note, you can fix any ball mark on the green as long as it is deemed a ball mark by you or somebody else.  But you cannot fix spike marks!

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Tiger90

you fix anything on the hole until you have putted out,  Once you have you can fix the mark for your playing partners.  Most people do it with the ball, but i dont think it matters because you are done the hole, and can touch the green if you like...

And like Ignorant said, if your intention is to hurt the other players putt, then you will get a penalty stroke, but if there is a bump on the hole, and you fix it after you putt out, thats fine


Originally Posted by Decisions on the Rules of Golf

A. If the player smoothed the edge of the hole as a courtesy to the players in following groups or for the care of the course, he was not in breach of Rule1-2. However, if the player’s primary purpose in smoothing the ragged edge was to influence the movement of his opponent’s, fellow-competitor’s, or partner’s ball, he was in breach of 1-2.

Tiger90 says you can fix the hole for your playing partners, but the Decision states you can repair it for the following groups, which would not include your playing partners. Also, Tiger90 says you can fix the hole as long as your intent is not to hurt others' putts, but the Decision states you can't repair it if your intent is to *influence* their putts, and helping their putts would still fall under the definition of "influencing".

So my interpretation is, you can't repair the hole until everyone in your group has putted out.

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Originally Posted by sacm3bill

Tiger90 says you can fix the hole for your playing partners, but the Decision states you can repair it for the following groups, which would not include your playing partners. Also, Tiger90 says you can fix the hole as long as your intent is not to hurt others' putts, but the Decision states you can't repair it if your intent is to *influence* their putts, and helping their putts would still fall under the definition of "influencing".

So my interpretation is, you can't repair the hole until everyone in your group has putted out.


You should not make any interpretations on a case already interpreted by the Lords.... It is all about intentions, as simple as that.

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I think Tiger90 is incorrect. Given the Decision that Ignorant quoted, I think it would be extremely unwise to repair the hole until your entire group is finished (unless it's clearly a ball mark or you're following the procedure to repair a materially mis-sized hole in a situation when the committee is not available).

Removing a bump as a courtesy to another player in your group is clearly intended to influence the motion of his ball. It does not matter whether it's helpful or harmful, only that it is intended to influence the motion of the ball. I suppose that if the damage is on the opposite side of the cup from the player's line you could argue that you're just taking care of the course. But, really, why bother? If it's not going to influence their ball anyway, you're not providing a courtesy; if it is, it's illegal. There's no reason to risk your intentions being misinterpreted.

That said, in a friendly, non-tournament round, this rule isn't one that I'd worry about vigorously enforcing. In those cases, there's no committee around, so if the cup is badly damaged, it is probably the wrong size so in most cases you'd probably be permitted to repair it anyway.

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Originally Posted by Ignorant

You should not make any interpretations on a case already interpreted by the Lords.... It is all about intentions, as simple as that.


I'm trying to interpret the wording of the Decision, which I feel is ambiguous. Just trying to get clarification.

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Originally Posted by sacm3bill

I'm trying to interpret the wording of the Decision, which I feel is ambiguous. Just trying to get clarification.



As far the wording is concerned it is not more or less ambiguous than tens of other Decisions where no black & white answers can be given.

I believe the point here is that one cannot be absolved just like that as Rule 1-2 is extremely clear about exerting influence on a ball. So the principal question here is whether a player is really trying to influence other players' balls in his group or is he merely trying to maintain the course.

So, as I already wrote, in the end it is all about player's intentions. From a practical point of view it is as Zeg wrote, one SHOULD not do any repair on a hole until the entire flight has finished the hole.

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Originally Posted by Ignorant

As far the wording is concerned it is not more or less ambiguous than tens of other Decisions where no black & white answers can be given.

I'd be hard pressed to find any other rule or decision where you can't read it and know for sure it's saying "You can do X", or "You can't do Y". Regardless, *this* particular decision is ambiguous and that was my only point. We seem to be in violent agreement on that. :-)

Originally Posted by Ignorant

...So the principal question here is whether a player is really trying to influence other players' balls in his group or is he merely trying to maintain the course.


I really don't see how you can differentiate the two. What is "maintaining the course" if not the act of making sure that players have equitable lies and course conditions?

Originally Posted by Ignorant

So, as I already wrote, in the end it is all about player's intentions. From a practical point of view it is as Zeg wrote, one SHOULD not do any repair on a hole until the entire flight has finished the hole.

Yes, I understand that in order to be assured of not breaking any rule, you should not fix the hole until your group has holed out. Or the entire flight. Or, along those lines, you can be 100% sure by just not fixing it at all.

It just seems this is a case where the rules/decisions could be updated. It should say either "You're not allowed to fix damage to the hole not caused by a ball", or "You are allowed to fix damage but only after you have putted out", or "You are allowed to fix damage but only after you and your playing partners have putted out".

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To clarify from my side as to why I started this thread...

Not in a tournament or competitive playing conditions have I done this... But just playing with my buddies, mainly on the week-end here in SoCal is where I have fixed the edge of a cup...

There are several muni's that get a ton of play... And some of the greens are pretty beat-up.  And I have seen many instances, sometimes several times within the same round, where the golf hole has like a small abrasion.

Typically you notice something like that as you are lining up your putt - before you putt out.  Sometimes you notice it after you put out and go to reach into the hole to pull your ball out.  Well  I typically will go up to the hole and 'tap' the edge of the cup to fix the imperfection with my finger/hand when I see something like that... This is why I asked the question.

Basically, I'm just trying to improve the hole so that it has a nice round circumference to it - and you don't see that small piece of sod or whatnot sticking up above the edge of the cup.  Or on the contrary, sometimes it can be a 'dent' where the sod looks like someone pushed it down a little on the edge with a putter - pulling the ball out of the hole - or carelessly putting the flag back into the hole - they nip the edge of the cup and instead of a clean edge - there is a small imperfection.

I asked if this was legal or not... Because I didn't want to do this in a tournament and receive a penalty.  But on the weekends with my buds, no one is critical of it.  And actually I'm doing it for the care of the course more so than anything.  Also to not have that in my vision or thought process before I putt.

Thanks for the responses here... I will obviously not touch the hole when in a tournament in this fashion given that it could be an infraction.

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