RULE: Spike Marks on Green

The one Rule of Golf most Professional Golfers would love to change if they were able 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 16 (The Putting Green) says you “may not touch the line of putt except:

·      You may remove loose impediments provided you do not press anything down;
·      You may place your club in front of the ball when addressing it, provided you do not press anything down;
·      In measuring;
·      In lifting or replacing your ball;
·      In pressing down a ball marker;
·      In repairing old hole plugs or ball marks on the putting green; and
·      In removing movable obstructions.”

OK- there is a tuft of grass sticking up on your line of putt – so you cannot press it down without incurring a penalty under Rule 16-1 (2 strokes).

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.

Hang on – what if he is a real mongrel and purposely stands on your line and creates some spike marks. Or probably more realistically, what if a fellow competitor accidentally stands on your line and creates some tufts on your line?

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’t 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.