25. Touching Line of Play on Putting Green

: Under Rule 16-1a, when a player’s ball is on the putting green:

The player is generally prohibited from touching his or her line of putt.

 

Ø  But there are seven exceptions (such as when removing loose impediments or movable obstructions, when lifting or replacing a ball, when repairing ball marks, etc.).

 

Proposed Rule: The prohibition of touching the line of play on the putting green would be eliminated:

 

Ø  There would no longer be a penalty for merely touching the line of play on the putting green (the term “line of play” would apply everywhere on the course including the putting green, and the term “line of putt” would no longer be used). 

 

Ø  But the player would still be subject to the prohibition on improving his or her line of play on the putting green (see new Rule 8.1a, as limited by 8.1b).

 

Reasons for Change

 

Ø  No advantage is gained if a player or his or her caddie merely touches the surface of the putting green on the line where the ball will be played.

 

Ø  Over time, the prohibition on touching the line of putt has become subject to many exceptions:

 

o   Current Rule 16-1a lists seven different situations in which a player is allowed to touch the line of putt.

 

o   The Decisions recognise additional exceptions, such as that there is no penalty if a player accidentally walks on the line of putt.

 

Ø  The current prohibition is difficult to administer and penalties are not often applied; and those penalties that are applied may be perceived as serving little or no purpose, such as when a caddie accidentally touches the line of putt with the flagstick.

 

Ø  The change that would allow a player to repair almost all damage on the putting green (see also Explanation for Proposed Rule Change - Repairing Damage on Putting Green) is a further reason why the prohibition on merely touching the line of putt is no longer needed.

 

Ø  Eliminating the prohibition on touching the line of putt would also be consistent with the related change in new Rule 10.2b(2), which would eliminate current Rule 8.2b’s prohibition on merely touching the putting green when pointing out the line of play for a ball on the green.

 

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