Greenside Manners (Do's And Don'ts)
By Snyper on 12/13/10
Matt is an opinionated* golf enthusiast from Pennsylvania. He coaches at the high school level, molding the minds and swings of our next generation. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts and opinions of Matt in the comments. Don't hold back- because Matt won't.

Though they may be very close to the same surface, the fringe and the green are two very different places. This is especially true when you begin talking about the rules that apply to each location. Specifically, the rules that apply to what you can and cannot do when your ball is on the green or on the fringe.

Fixing a ball mark just seems like it is always the right thing to do. After all, we have all suffered the consequences of playing on greens where people seem to always forget to fix their ball marks. They leave nasty scars that can take weeks to heal. However, before you bend down to fix a ball mark, you need to make sure that you are doing it in a legal fashion. If your ball is not yet on the green, you are not allowed to fix any ball mark or pitch mark that is anywhere other than on the green. For example, if you end up on the fringe and there is a ball mark on the fringe that is in your line, you may not fix it. However, if the ball mark is on the green, then you are entitled to fix it. In fact,
In fact, any ball mark that is on the green can always be fixed.
any ball mark that is on the green can always be fixed. But, be very careful, you have to make sure that the mark is indeed a ball mark. As per rule 16-1c, the only other damage that you can fix is damage from an old hole plug. If the damage is caused by anything else, like spikes, a slammed club, or just a random scar, you may not attempt to repair it until you have finished the hole. Ball marks off of the putting surface may be fixed before the completion of the hole, but only after your ball has made it to the green. So, if you land your approach shot in the fringe and your ball ends up right behind your ball mark, don’t touch it. Hit your chip shot and then, only after your ball has come to rest on the green, should you go back and fix the ball mark in the fringe. If you do violate this rule, the penalty is two strokes. Quite a hefty consequence for a common courtesy!

Another big difference between your ball lying in the fringe or on the green is whether or not you can mark your ball. On the green, you may mark and clean your ball at any time. On the fringe, however, you may only mark your ball if you are requested to do so by an opponent. Rule 22-2 states that, if you are off the green, you cannot just lift your ball because you think it is in someone’s way, you must be requested to do so. And, if you are asked to lift your ball, you may not clean it. You must lift it and replace it exactly as it lay prior to being marked. If you lift your ball when it lies off the putting surface without the action being requested by another player, your penalty is one stroke in accordance with rule 18-2a.
If your ball marker is moved during the act of marking the ball, it is without penalty.

Now, once your ball is marked, you may think that the rulings stop, but they don’t. In fact, it actually gets a little more complicated. I’ll do my best to simplify the many different scenarios and decisions that involve ball markers. Basically, your ball marker may be intentionally moved only if it is in the line of another player and they request for it to be moved. Accidental movement of your ball marker is without penalty if the movement is a result of the moving of loose impediments or in the act of measuring your ball. Also, if your ball marker is moved during the act of marking the ball, it is without penalty. This is important because tapping down your ball marker with your putter is considered to be part of the act of marking. So, if you tap down your marker and it moves or sticks to your putter, you are not subject to penalty. However, if your marker moves in any of these situations, it must be returned to its original location. If a player replaces his ball without relocating his marker to the original spot and then plays from an incorrect position, he is subject to penalty under rule 20-7. If the marker is moved outside of one of the given exceptions, he is subject to penalty under rule 20-1 or 18-2 depending on the cause of the motion. Marking your ball seems like a simple act, but don’t let your guard down just because your ball is in your pocket. Although the situations become complicated and difficult to interpret, moving your marker can result in a costly penalty. If you want to have some fun, you can begin to read some of the crazy rulings and decisions that apply to ball markers. You may be surprised how easy it can be to break the rules when you’re on or around the green!

* Matt's views and opinions are his own do not necessarily reflect those of oobgolf.

photo source

[ comments ]
aaronm04 says:
I forget who it was, but some time ago a PGA player, in the act of marking his ball, dropped his marker on top of his ball as he bent down to mark it. He incurred a one stroke penalty.
Kurt the Knife says:
Timely note.
I was playing over the weekend post-rain and quite wet when I plugged a 9 iron shot into the green. I mean, my ball was half-submerged. I pulled it out and repaired the crater n putted out. But this article brings me to think what to do if It had plugged on the fringe?
cjgiant says:
Any plugged ball in the fairway ((I forget the exact term - "closely mown area" or something) may be lifted out of the plug (I don't recall clean and replacement rules off top of head). Apparently, if you are in the rough, though, you are screwed and may have to take an unplayable.
Agustin says:
@ Kurt The Knife: check your local rules regarding plugged lies. Some clubs have a local rule permitting your to lift and clean a plugged ball in it's own impact thru the green; which includes rough. Also check for what is allowed by "Winter Rules" on the course you are playing.
bducharm says:
@aaronm04 - it was Ian Poulter. Lost in a playoff in Dubai. He intentionally tried to do it again the following week during the pro-am and he said it took 12 times before he could do it!!!
ilovebacon says:
What's the rule on tending the pin while on the fringe. I thought that if you're not on the green, it had to be either in or out (not tended). However, I swear I saw a caddy tending it for a player on the fringe last year during a pga event. What's the deal?
zeg says:
@ilovebacon: the flagstick may *always* be attended, regardless of whether you're on the putting surface or not. However, if it is not attended prior to the stroke, it may not be attended---you can't have someone run over and pull it out if they weren't already attending it.

With respect to the article, I think it should be clarified that you may always repair any turf damage anywhere *unless* it is on your line or in the area of your stance or swing. If you see a divot or pitch mark a couple yards away, you can (and should) fix it with for the sake of the next player to come through.
danno444 says:
Anyone know for sure? I hit my shot and it rests on the fringe. My opponent then hits his shot and it lands and makes a ball mark on my line to the hole and in the fringe. Can I repair this? I believe I can as my ball was in that position first and I am entitled to that lie.
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