RULE: When is the ball in the hole?

Just recently on the putting green, I was drawn into a discussion with some fellow players about what happens when the ball is resting against the flag stick left in the hole. Much of the talk evolved after the rule change allowing you to putt on the green with the flag stick left unattended in the hole.

Opinions and answers varied (what's to be expected about golfers, especially us old ones?), and each declared they were right!

QUESTIONS POSED:

Does the ball have to be entirely in the hole, or at the bottom of the hole? If the ball rests against the flag stick left unattended in the hole, and only part of the ball is in the hole below the green's surface, is it holed or do you move the flagstick? If the ball pops back onto the green, is that a penalty? Have you caused the ball to move? What if it falls into the hole, have you holed it with your previous shot?

Let's start with the definition.  

Holed: When your ball is at rest in the hole after a stroke and the entire ball is below the surface of the putting green. When the Rules refer “holing out” or “hole out”, it means the player's ball is holed.” (no mention of having to be at the bottom of the cup!)

Now this definition goes on to say, “For the special case of a ball resting against the flagstick in the hole, see Rule 13.2c”

OK, back to Rule 13.2cBall Resting Against Flagstick in Hole

(WARNING: THIS PART OF THE RULE REFERS TO AN UNATTENDED FLAGSTICK, LEFT

If your ball comes to rest against the flagstick left in the hole, and any part of your ball is in the hole below the surface of the putting green, your ball is treated as holed.” IN THE HOLE.) >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

On the odd occasion when the flag stick is leaning (windy day, poor replacement of flagstick, eg), you ball may rest against the flag, but NO part of the ball is in the hole, below the surface of the green, then the rule is again clear.

If no part of your ball is in the hole below the surface ofthe putting green:

Your ball is NOT HOLED and must be played as it lies.

 If the flagstick is removed and your ball moves (whether it falls into the hole or moves away from the hole), there is no penalty and it must be replaced on the lip of the hole.”

 

Another player posed the scenario where your ball is jammed part way down against the flagstick, not resting at the bottom of the hole, but still entirely below the putting surface. He opined that if you pulled the flagstick out, and the ball came out too, then that was not holed and should be a penalty.

Two points to be made to clear up this misconception:

  1. Check back to Rule 13.2c – that tells you your ball is holed.

  2. Rule 1.1 The Game of Golf also tells us “Golf is played by striking your ball with a club, and each hole starts from the teeing area and ends when your ball is holed on the putting green.”

You have holed the ball, and the hole has been completed! If your ball has been holed, and you move the flagstick, any movement of the ball is irrelevant - you have already completed the hole.

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