Ask the Rules Guy
Tuesday, January 10, 2012

SLOW POKE
Rules Guy,

My best friend and I have teamed up for weekly matches against another twosome every week for the last few years. Even though it’s always competitive, I’m constantly annoyed at my buddy’s habit of practicing by taking and retaking a putt after he misjudges a break. He never slows down the group behind us, but it always irks me anyway. During our last round I got fed up and teed off on the next hole with him still on the putting green. Finally playing at my own pace, I striped my drive, but the guys we were playing with said that leaving my partner was a violation of the rules. I had the honor and I know it’s legal to take practice putts after you finish a hole, so was this really a violation?
-- Kyle P, Seattle, Wash.

Needless to say, the Rules of Golf and general rules of golf etiquette are by no means he same thing, but in this case you managed to violate both. You’re right that you are allowed to practice on the previous green between holes, but there are limits to what the rules allow. According to Decision 29/3, when you teed off, your team officially started the next hole. Once you did so, your partner was in violation of Rule 7-2, which prohibits practicing during the play of a hole, even though it was you who actually got the ball rolling. By leaving your partner in the dust, you two automatically lost the hole that you began while he was working on his short game. But cheer up, even if your partner decides he’s better off without you at the next match, you can always team up with Rory Sabbatini.


 

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