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New laws on putting – R&A and USGA ruling

Golf can be cruel at times… especially around the green in high winds..just ask Dustin Johnson who famously incurred a one shot penalty at last years US Open after his ball appeared to move before he putted.

The R&A and USGA have now moved to clarify the ruling so if the same situation occurs in the future then the outcome will be entirely different. This is all thanks to a new rule, which is now available for club committees to implement as well.


“When a player’s ball lies on the putting green, there is no penalty if the ball or ball-marker is accidentally moved by the player, his partner, his opponent or any of their caddies or equipment. The ball or ball-marker must be replaced as provided in Rules 18-2, 18-3 and 20-1”.

“If it is determined that a player’s ball on the putting green was moved as a result of wind, water or some natural cause such as the effects of gravity, the ball must be played as it lies from its new location. A ball-marker moved in such a circumstances is replaced.

So how does this work……. Here are 4 situational examples so as to clarify the potential situations:

  1. When preparing to hit a putt, a player accidentally causes the bad to move..Then NO penalty is incurred, and the ball must be replaced.
  2. If a player accidentally drops his/her ball, which hits and moves the marker..Then NO penalty is incurred, and the marker must be replaced.
  3. If a player accidentally drops his/her marker, which hits and moves the ball..Then NO penalty is incurred, and the ball must be replaced.
  4. If a player accidentally kicks and moves his/her ball..Then NO penalty is incurred, and the ball must be replaced.

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