Do this while you’re putting and you’ll lose the hole!
(In a recent survey of our readers, golfers let me know they want more info about the rules of golf. Here’s one you might encounter.)
I was in a match play tournament last month against a formidable opponent. I did a very stupid thing which nearly cost me the match.
Here’s the story: I reached the green in two on the tenth hole — a par 4. I missed my first putt as the ball knicked the right edge of the hole, ran around the lip and stopped, just hanging on to the back edge but not dropping. I asked my opponent if I could finish. She agreed. I then reached across the hole and tapped the ball into the cup for a par. Right? No way. My opponent challenged me and declared I had actually lost the hole.
What did I do wrong? Was it reaching over the hole with my putter and tapping the ball in? I thought that was ok, and said so.
So What Was The Problem?
The problem was that as I reached across the hole, my feet moved and my right foot ended up crossing the line of putt!!! A violation of Rule 16-1e.
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.
I checked with our local pro later and he agreed with my opponent, although I still find the exception to the rule confusing. How easy is it to have a foot step on the line of putt when you’re reaching across to hit the ball?
Do This And You Can Forget The Rule!
So I lost the hole. But it won’t happen again. Here’s my solution for both you and me: Always take your normal stance when you putt. If you never do that “easy reach across the hole and tap in putt” then your feet can’t be astride the line or touch the line. Watch the pros on the weekend tournaments. They almost always take the time to take a normal stance and address the ball before they putt, no matter how short the putt is. Doing that takes away any chance of violating the rule.
By the way, I still won the match but only by 1. Lucky me.
So what do you think? Have you ever broken this rule? Have you ever called anyone on it? Add your comment in the space below and let me know what you think.