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 Repairing The Hole

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Posts : 36
Join date : 2008-04-30
Location : Yorktown

PostSubject: Repairing The Hole   Fri 05 Aug 2011, 9:34 am

Here's a scenario to look at:

Player A goes to pull the flagstick. In doing so, Player A accidently and unknowingly put a small dent on the inside wall and edge of the cuphole. Player B putts from a distance and misses. As Player B goes to tap in, he notices the slight damage to the hole. He bends over and attempts to fix the hole as best as he could. He then holes out.

My question is, did Player B violate any rules? I believe he did and I am having a difficult time trying to find the citing in the Rules Book to address this. Please chime in with your comments and explanations. Thanks in advance.

Pat Smith
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Join date : 2008-06-03

PostSubject: Re: Repairing The Hole   Fri 05 Aug 2011, 4:34 pm

Short answer: It may be repaired. Further, if a person causes accidental damage like that the person who caused the damage should repair it immediately, to include indentations in the green or raised turf caused by scuffing a shoe. If the person removing the flag accidentally altered the dimension of the hole it should be repaired prior to play continuing. However, in this case the dent wasn't noticed until another player got closer to the cup and saw the "dent".

Long answer: Rule 16-1 applies and there are several applicable decisions (I've pasted the entire rule 16-1 at the bottom of this post in case anyone needs to review it). Here are the two USGA decisions that matter most:

16-1a/6 Damaged Hole; Procedure for Player
Q. Prior to putting, a player discovers that the hole has been damaged. What is the proper procedure?
A. If the damage is not clearly identifiable as a ball mark, then:
(a) 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.
(b) 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.

Under this ruling The first thing that must be determined is whether the hole dimensions are materially altered. In your case you said there was a "dent" on the inside and edge of the cup. Therefore there was material damage. Since all of our committee members were involved in play, (unless one of them happened to be a committee member), it would have been an unreasonable delay of play to summon one to address this situation. Therefore the player properly attempted to repair the hole.

The second ruling that applies concerns accidental damage to the line of a players putt (keeping in mind that the line of putt includes the hole):

16-1a/13 Line of Putt Damaged Accidentally by Opponent, Fellow-Competitor or Their Caddies
Q. An opponent, fellow-competitor or one of their caddies accidentally steps on and damages the player's line of putt. What is the ruling?
A. There is no penalty. Rule 1-2 is not applicable.
In equity (Rule 1-4), the player may have the line of putt restored to its original condition.
The player is entitled to the lie and line of putt he had when his ball came to rest. The line of putt may be restored by anyone.
If it is not possible to restore the line of putt, the player would be justified in requesting the Committee to grant relief. If the damage is severe enough, the Committee may declare the area to be ground under repair, in which case the competitor may take relief under Rule 25-1b(iii).
Line of Putt Altered Purposely by Opponent or Fellow-Competitor by Stepping on It See 1-2/1.

This is an analogous ruling in that it deals with accidental damage to the line of a competitors' putt. In your case, the player's ball had come to rest before the line of putt was damaged accidentally by a player removing the flagstick. Under this ruling the cup could have been repaired by anyone in the group. This ruling is important because it cites the equity position that underscores many USGA rulings, which is that a "player is entitled to the lie and line of putt he had when his ball came to rest." (see ruling 13-2/8 for another example of this equity standard). This is an interesting point because when the players ball had come to rest in its original position he was entitled to the line of putt that existed at that time. So he was clearly entitled to repair the damage before putting the first time. Remember that he definition of "line of putt" includes the hole. So even though the player struck a subsequent shot and his ball came to rest a second time, he is still repairing damage to his original line of putt (the hole). If, however, the damage to the green had been by a scuff mark made off to the side of his original putt which nobody repaired, and after playing his first putt the player now finds that the scuff mark is in the line of his next putt, the scuff mark cannot be repaired - because it was already there prior to the players ball coming to rest after the first putt and was not in his original line.

The rationale for this is that players can make repairs to the green in areas that are not in their line and do not affect their stance or swing, or area of swing. So any player, out of care for the course or courtesy to others, could have repaired a scuff mark that wasn't in anyone's line or the area of their stance or swing. Like the rule for divots, these rules are intended to allow and encourage everyone to properly care for the course.

Jim Gallagher


Rule 16-1
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).

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.)
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