What is the penalty for hitting off a WRONG putting green?

Did you know about this golf rule when it comes to putting off the wrong green?

Andy Roberts's picture
Fri, 4 Sep 2020
What is the penalty for hitting off a WRONG putting green?

We were out on the golf course the other day and spotted one golfer - no doubt just in practice with his pals - hitting off the wrong putting green and onto the putting green that was supposed to be on. 

While we did not go over to inform this young man that he was doing the wrong thing, in tournament play this would go down as a two-stroke penalty in strokeplay or a loss of hole in matchplay. 



Under Rule 13.1, golfers must take a free drop to the nearest point of relief (within one club length) for the ball and the stance and the swing. Our friends over at Golf Rules Questions on Instagram reveal this point perfectly in one of their latest posts (see above). 

Here's the full definition of the Rule when it comes to Putting Greens from the R&A's Player Edition... 

Relief Must Be Taken from Wrong Green

Interference under this Rule exists when your ball is on a wrong green or a wrong green physically interferes with your area of intended stance or area of intended swing.

When there is interference by a wrong green, you must not play the ball as it lies. Instead, you must take free relief by dropping the original ball or another ball in the relief area as shown in Diagram 13.1f.

There is no relief under this Rule if interference exists only because you choose a club, type of stance or swing or direction of play that is clearly unreasonable under the circumstances.

Credit: R&A - The Player's Edition 


When there is interference by a wrong green, free relief must be taken.

The diagram assumes a right-handed player. Ball A lies on the wrong green, and the nearest point of complete relief for Ball A is at P1, which must be in the same area of the course where the original ball came to rest (in this case, the general area).

Reference Point: The nearest point of complete relief (P1).

Size of Relief Area: One club-length from the reference point.

Limits on Relief Area: The relief area:

  • Must not be nearer the hole than the reference point, and
  • Must be in the same area of the course as the reference point.

Player Notes: You must take complete relief from all interference by the wrong green.

Penalty for Playing Incorrectly Substituted Ball or Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Rule 13.1: General Penalty.

For more information about golf's rules, please visit the R&A website.