Ask the Rules Guy
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
PLACEMENT PUZZLER

Rules Guy,
In our regular fourball match, I was away and had a massive breaking putt, so I asked my partner to help me get a read. My buddy walked towards the hole and put his putterhead down exactly where he wanted me to aim. I knocked my ball right to the spot, and it broke perfectly and dove right into the hole. My partner and I started to celebrate, but our happiness was short-lived; both of our competitors immediately started protesting. One claimed that my putt was illegal because my partner had helped me read my putt by actually indicating a spot on the green to hit. The other claimed that my partner would have to forfeit the hole, because in marking the spot for me to hit, he had actually put his club down on his own line of putt (which I had to admit was true). So according to them, we’d lost the hole by default! Could that possibly be true?

--Kevin C., Portland, Ore.
 
According to Decision 30/2.5, a player who touches his line of putt while pointing out a line of putt is in violation of Rule 8-2b, which forbids a player from actively touching the green when pointing out a line for his partner. Ironically, even though it was your buddy who broke the Rules, you are actually the one who should have been punished: Your ball was disqualified from the hole. There is a silver lining, however. While Rule 8-2b covers a partner’s line of putt, Rule 16-1a actually gives an exception for touching the green while marking it for yourself. Therefor, even though you were out of the hole, your buddy was still alive and should have putted out. 

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