Did you know about this REPAIR OF DAMAGE rule?

Make sure you're aware of what you can and can't repair on the greens, as one GolfMagic reader suffered the consequences.

Jack Seddon's picture
Wed, 22 Jan 2020
Did you know about this REPAIR OF DAMAGE rule?

We recently had a GolfMagic reader get in touch after they were disqualified for altering the weight on their driver during a tournament. Last week, another reader messaged us about a rules incident they experienced and it could be one that catches you out.

One of our readers was playing in a match play tournament in Kent, where they breached the rules while repairing a green on the final hole.

At the time of the incident the match was all square, but a club official who was nearby witnessed the incident and the player received a penalty breach, which under match play circumstances is a loss of the hole, meaning in this incident, it lead to a loss of the match.

"I was repairing some damage on the green before my putt," said our GolfMagic reader, who has asked to remain anonymous in this article.

"With all the rain we've had lately, there were some spike marks in my line which I repaired first. The rain had also caused a lot of standing water on the course and there were a few small puddles on the green of our final hole.

"There was some standing water just about in my line, so I used my repair tool to drain the water a little and then made my putt.

"The match finished all square but one of the rules officials at the tournament came over to me and I explained the siuation and found out I had broken the rules, meaning I lost the hole and ultimately the match.

"What was more annoying was that I was told that if I had called the rules official over and explained the situation, I'd have got relief and been able to move my ball."

Now this is certainly one of the most unique ruling incidents we have heard and according to the R&A, a player must not repair a green that has suffered damage from 'irrigation or rain or other natural forces.'

Check out the official ruling below:

13.1 Actions Allowed or Required on Putting Greens

c) Improvements Allowed on Putting Green

(2) Repair of Damage. A player may repair damage on the putting green without penalty by taking reasonable actions to restore the putting green as nearly as possible to its original condition, but only:

  • By using his or her hand, foot or other part of the body or a normal ball-mark repair tool, tee, club or similar item of normal equipment, and
  • Without unreasonably delaying play (see Rule 5.6a).

But if the player improves the putting green by taking actions that exceed what is reasonable to restore the putting green to its original condition (such as by creating a pathway to the hole or by using an object that is not allowed), the player gets the general penalty for breach of Rule 8.1a.

“Damage on the putting green” means any damage caused by a person or outside influence, such as:

  • Ball marks, shoe damage (such as spike marks) and scrapes or indentations caused by equipment or a flagstick,
  • Old hole plugs, turf plugs, seams of cut turf and scrapes or indentations from maintenance tools or vehicles,
  • Animal tracks or hoof indentations, and
  • Embedded objects (such as a stone, acorn or tee).

But “damage on the putting green” does not include any damage or conditions that result from:

  • Normal practices for maintaining the overall condition of the putting green (such as aeration holes and grooves from vertical mowing),
  • Irrigation or rain or other natural forces,
  • Natural surface imperfections (such as weeds or areas of bare, diseased or uneven growth), or
  • Natural wear of the hole.

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