RULE: Spike Marks on Green

The one Rule of Golf most Professional Golfers have long advocated for change is to press down spike marks on the line of putt on the green. You are allowed to move loose impediments, repair old hole plugs or ball pitch marks and remove sand on the green –so ...
# Can I press down a spike mark on my line of putt?
#  Can a mate do it for me?
#  What if he stands on my line and damages my line when he gets his ball from the hole? 

Rule 13.1c (Improvements allowed on Putting Greens) says:

During a round, you may take these two actions on the putting green, no matter whether your ball is on or off the putting green: 

 

  • Sand and loose soil on the putting green (but not anywhere else on the course) may be removed without penalty.
  • You may repair damage on the putting green without penalty by taking reasonable actions to restore the putting green as nearly as possible to its original condition.
The rule goes on to further clarify what damage is - "Damage on the green means damage caused by a person or outside influence." The 'new' rules now includes shoe damage such as spike marks, as well as all those previously allowed.

OK- there is a tuft of grass caused by a golfers spike sticking up on your line of putt – so now you may press it down without incurring a penalty under Rule 13.1c .

*********But a fellow competitor has putted out – can he press the tuft down for me? I often see this done – “I have finished the hole – I can fix it for you.”

No - very naughty! If he purposely improves your line of putt by repairing spike damage, the fellow competitor is penalized under Rule 1-2 (“A player or caddie must not take any action to influence the position or movement of a ball except in accordance with Rules.”) Penalty 2 strokes!

But here is the big sting – if you allowed him to do this, tacitly or otherwise, you too are penalized 2 strokes under Rule 13-2. This Rule says, in part, you must not improve, or allow to be improved, your line of play.


Fortunately, there is no penalty.  Rule 1-2 does not apply in these circumstances. A player is entitled to the lie and line of putt he had when his ball came to rest. So the line of put can be restored by anyone.

In summary:

You can repair a spike mark on your line of putt.
A fellow competitor can’t repair a spike mark on your line of putt, unless the damage was created AFTER your ball came to rest on the green.

 

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