Golf Putting Etiquette Rules

By James Patterson
Being aware of some specific rules of putting green etiquette could spare unnecessary embarrassment and tension.
Being aware of some specific rules of putting green etiquette could spare unnecessary embarrassment and tension.

The green is a sacred sort of place for the game of golf. It’s where the ball ends its journey and your score is final. Since putting is such a different part of the game, certain rules of etiquette apply. Breaking these rules doesn’t necessarily constitute an official violation, but it might earn you the ire of your playing partners.

Don't Step on Your Partner's Line

One of the cardinal sins on the green is stepping directly on the putting line of your playing partner. Most golf shoes have spikes on the bottom, and even if they don’t, regular shoes can make a slight indention on the green, possibly causing your partner’s putt to go off line. Your best bet is to walk all the way around your partner’s ball instead of walking through and on his line. If you absolutely must cross the ball’s path, take a wide stride over it and get your partner’s permission before doing so. Even a simple nod will do.

Repair Ball Marks

Some shots that travel high in the air and land on the green create an indention called a ball mark. If left unattended, these marks can create dead spots on the green and a nuisance for the groups playing behind you. When you get to the green, check the area around your ball for a mark. Use a ball mark repair tool or a tee and lift up the indented grass so it’s slightly above ground level. Then tap it down with the bottom of your putter so it’s flush again. You don’t have to make it perfect--just make it as flat as possible.

Stand in the Right Place

Standing in your partner's line of sight can make her nervous, cause distractions and is generally bad form. Instead of standing directly in front of or behind your partner, stand slightly off to the side so you’re out of her peripheral vision. Once she has hit her putt, you can start moving toward your ball. Players should also avoid standing so their shadow crosses the line between another player's ball and the hole.

Tend and Replace the Flagstick

If you’re not the first person to putt, take charge of the flagstick. If one player is far enough from the hole that he needs it in to see where the hole is, stand with it and pull it out just after he hits his putt. Gently lay the flagstick down on the side of the green away from anyone else who will be putting. If you take the flagstick out, be sure to put it back in for the next group before leaving the green.

About the Author

James Patterson specializes in health and wellness topics, having written and produced material for the National Institutes of Health, the President's Cancer Panel and an Inc. 500 Hall of Fame company. He is also a former sportswriter with writing experience in basketball, baseball, softball, golf and other popular sports.

Photo Credits

  • Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images
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