19. Repairing Damage on Putting Green 

: Rule 16-1c allows only limited repair of damage on the putting green:

A player may repair any old hole plug or ball-mark on the green on his or her line of play, whether the ball is on or off the putting green (this is an exception to Rule 13-2).


Ø  But a player must not repair any other damage on the green (such as spike marks, animal damage, etc.) if it might assist in his or her subsequent play of the hole.


Proposed Rule: New Rule 13.1b(1) allows repair of almost any damage on the green


Ø  “Damage on the putting green” would be defined to include all types of damage (such as spike marks, shoe damage, indentations from a club or flagstick, animal damage, etc.), except aeration holes, natural imperfections/defects of the ground surface or natural wear of the hole.


Ø  The player is allowed to repair damage only with his or her hands or feet or normal equipment such as a tee, club or ball-mark repair tool and must not unreasonably delay play.


Reasons for Change


Ø  Because putting greens are specially prepared for playing the ball along the ground, the Rules allow the player to do things on the green that are not allowed anywhere else: 


Ø  The player may mark, lift and clean a ball on the green at any time, remove sand and loose soil on the green and repair old hole plugs and ball-marks on the green.


Ø  Given this philosophy of allowing players to try to have a smooth surface for rolling the ball, there is no conceptual reason for prohibiting repair of other types of damage (whether made by players, animals, maintenance staff, etc.).


Ø  This Rule change would eliminate the frequent questions among players and referees about whether a particular area of damage on the green is a ball-mark that may be repaired or is a spike mark or other damage that must not be repaired.


Ø  This change would also reduce the current tension between prohibiting a player from repairing damage while playing a hole and then encouraging the player to repair that damage (such as repairing the ragged edge of the hole or tapping down spike marks) as a courtesy to following groups or in care of the course (Decisions 1-2/0.7 and 1-2/3.5). 


Ø  The concern has been noted that allowing repair of all damage on the putting green could slow down play if players try to repair too many areas; but we believe this is unlikely to be true for most players and that the Rule against unreasonable delay (as well as a Committee’s pace of play policy) can be used to address situations where a player seeks to make excessive repairs.


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