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Ask the Rules Guy: Walking your putting line before putting

Ask the Rules Guy, October 2013
Jason Raish
Ask the Rules Guy

BABY TALK
Hey Rules Guy:
A guy I know "baby- steps" his way from his ball to the hole to get a feel for his putt. Taking abbreviated paces, he walks just outside his intended line. Is this okay?
-- Jerry Schaefer, via e-mail

Interesting. My pal, Karl, has this irritating habit of high-stepping after draining a big putt, but this is the first I've heard of baby-stepping. Under Rule 16-1, a player may not touch the "line of putt" prior to address -- not even with his feet -- except to tap down a marker, move loose impediments, repair a pitch mark, or pick up/put down his ball. "Line of putt" allows for a reasonable distance on either side of the line where you expect the ball to go, and what's "reasonable" is your call. If he cuts it too close and the ball rolls over his tracks, you can slap him with a two-shot/loss-of-hole penalty for breaking Rule 16-1.
 

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