PUTTING GREEN: Is this allowed?

Hi all!

Time for a little test :-).

Look at the picture below.

The player has removed some hail on the putting green before his putt.

Was that OK?

Write your comment below.

/Brian

34 Comments
  1. vivi says

    natural ice/hail and snow are loose impediments and can be moved. but you are not allowed to create a pathway – it depends whether you would call this a pathway or not – then you get the general penalty.
    you can define it as temporary water and take the normal relief from that- but where will you take relief?

    1. Lyle Alexander says

      It’s my understanding that a pathway may not be created when repairing damage to the putting green. Since removing loose impediments is not repairing damage, removing them is within the rules.
      If the loose impediments were leaves, there would be no penalty for their removal.

  2. Brian Hurley says

    Not allowed in breach of Rule 8.1a and General Penalty applies.

  3. Jurek Brown says

    8.1a, General Penalty, see page 114 Official Rules Guide Of Golf Number 5, Actions that are not allowed
    Number 5 states Remove dew, frost or water.

    1. Aidan says

      Hail is frozen water ie natural ice therefore is a loose impediment or casual water at the option of the player. You can not create a pathway for your ball (8.1) ‘The players line of play’. You should remove the loose impediment the same way as you would remove sand or loose soil ie brush it sideways

    2. Alec says

      Hailstones (natural ice) are loose impediments and can be removed.

  4. Tim says

    This is allowed. The hail is either loose impediments or temporary water at the choice of the player. If he chooses loose impediments, he can remove any amount he wishes and leave the rest as he found it when his ball came to rest. If he chooses temporary water he can take complete relief from the hail by moving the ball from where it was on the putting green and placing it in another location of complete relief or in the case of the picture anolace affording maximum available relief.

  5. Tim says

    This is allowed. The hail is either loose impediments or temporary water at the choice of the player. If he chooses loose impediments, he can remove any amount he wishes and leave the rest as he found it when his ball came to rest. If he chooses temporary water he can take complete relief from the hail by moving the ball from where it was on the putting green and placing it in another location of complete relief or in the case of the picture a place affording maximum available relief.

  6. Lindsay says

    For those replies earlier, hail us not dew,water or frost, they are natural ice so are loose Impediments or temporary water at the players option. Fine to remove.

  7. Colin MacGillivray says

    It’s sensible, intuitive and logical to sweep away a path to the hole, whatever is in the way – leaves, ice, sand or dead animals.

  8. John says

    No penalty — Natural ice either temporary water or loose impediment. Player’s choice.

  9. Mary says

    General penalty. He may remove hailstones in whatever way he likes BUT he may not create a pathway to the hole this is in violation of rule 8. Conditions affecting the players line of play.

  10. Robert Kennedy says

    I can’t see any difference between moving loose debris, twigs, leaves, etc. on your line and moving hail. When I clear a path for things other than hail it’s just not as apparent, but it is a path.,

  11. Tony Ireland says

    Quite permissible, as long as it was removed by an action across the line of the putt and not along the line of the putt. In amateur golf it may be removed by any means, including a putter, but I emphasise not along the line of the putt.

  12. Stephen Wise says

    No penalty. Hail is natural ice and therefore a ‘ loose impediment’. There is nothing in Rules 8 and 15 which prohibit the removal of loose impediments in this situation. I cannot find anything in the rules that refers to a ‘Pathway’ as mentioned by some other contributors.
    See 8.1b(2) and 15.1

  13. Henry Hugh McAuley says

    Why is he even playing in these conditions? Lol …

  14. Aidan says

    Hail is frozen water ie natural ice therefore is a loose impediment or casual water at the option of the player. You can not create a pathway for your ball (8.1) ‘The players line of play’. You should remove the loose impediment the same way as you would remove sand or loose soil ie brush it sideways

  15. Katherine M says

    Yes
    Snow and hail are considered casual water or loose impediments at the discretion of the player.

  16. Conor maguire says

    When ground conditions are abnormal to the course, or it is unreasonable to require a player to play from a specific area, it should be marked as GUR. But as the player no where to take relief, his only option is to clear a pathway. no penalty.

  17. Conor maguire says

    My comment above is from 2f abnormal course conditions page 388.

  18. Bob Rawson says

    Rule 8.1a(2) states that loose impediments may not be moved into position such as to improve the line of play and removing hail on the line of play is also in breach of Rule 13.1c(2) by creating a pathway to the hole

    1. Steve W says

      13.1c(2) is in relation to repairing damage to the putting green thereby creating a pathway. As stated about the hail is loose impediments & can be removed

  19. Doug says

    15.1
    Loose Impediments

    a
    Removal of Loose Impediment

    Without penalty, a player may remove a loose impediment anywhere on or off the course, and may do so in any way (such as by using a hand or foot or a club or other equipment)..

    Snow and Natural Ice (other than frost) are either loose impediments or, when on the ground, temporary water, at the player’s option.

    Other equipment is:Anything used, worn, held or carried by the player or the player’s caddie.

    Objects used for the care of the course, such as rakes, are equipment only while they are being held or carried by the player or caddie.

    So hail can be removed even with the back of a rake.

    Google ‘Playing golf inbox weather’ by Barry Rhodes. Its a bit dated but is an expert view.

    RIP Barry

    1. Doug says

      Should read: Playing Golf in Bad Weather.

  20. William Twaddle says

    I support the group who indicate there is no penalty. Loose Impediments. Regarding 8.1a the loose impediments are not being moved into position to create a pathway, but out of position to clear the line of play.

  21. Lars Waerland says

    No, you are not allowed to remove hail.

  22. Jorge V. Garasino says

    Jorge V. Garasino (Buenos Aires, Argentina)

    The “natural ice” is a Loose Impediment by Definition.
    By Rule 15.1.a the Player can remove them in “any way”.
    In the case in analysis there is no penalty.

  23. Stephen Wise says

    Apologies guy and gals, have now found reference to creating a pathway. Still believe the hail can be removed but not in such a manner as to create a defined pathway as shown in the photo. Look forward to reading the definitive answer to this one !

  24. R G Powell says

    Had this happen to me. It’s fine to remove the hailstones, though to create a pathway to the hole as pictured is probably not in the spirit of the game

  25. Dagbone says

    This is actually pretty tricky. I started off thinking I knew the answer immediately, but in researching prior poster comments, I concluded that the answer is NOT so simple…

    Let’s start with a few facts:

    Definition of Temporary Water: Snow and NATURAL ICE (other than frost), are either LOOSE IMPEDIMENTS or, when on the ground, temporary water, at the player’s option.
    Fact: Hail is natural ice, so it CAN be treated as a loose impediment.

    Rule 15.1: Without penalty, a player may remove a loose impediment anywhere on or off the course, and may do so in any way (such as by using a hand or foot or a club or other equipment).
    Fact: Hail can be removed.

    Rule 8.1: [This Rule] does NOT apply to the REMOVAL OF LOOSE IMPEDIMENTS or movable obstructions, which is allowed to the extent provided in Rule 15.
    Fact: Rule 8.1 does NOT apply.

    Pathway: An undefined term within the Rules, only used once in Rule 13.1c: If the player improves the putting green by taking actions that EXCEED WHAT IS REASONABLE TO RESTORE THE PUTTING GREEN TO ITS ORIGINAL CONDITION (such as by creating a PATHWAY to the hole or by using an object that is not allowed), the player gets the general penalty.
    Fact: We MUST determine whether the actions were REASONABLE or not.

    Conclusions:

    I can’t find an Interpretation (https://www.randa.org/en/rog/2019/pages/official-interpretations) that would help guide us on this specific question. Consequently, I would have to fall back on Rule 20.3 Situations Not Covered by the Rules:
    Any situation not covered by the Rules should be decided by the Committee:
    • Considering all the circumstances, and
    • Treating the situation in a way that is reasonable, fair and consistent with how similar situations are treated under the Rules.

    In the caption to the photo, Brian states that “The player has removed some hail on the putting green before his putt.” The photo makes it appear that the method the player used was not simply removal, but rather removal AND “piling up”, as evidenced by the density of hailstones parallel to the cleared path.

    To me, the final Ruling boils down to an analysis of the player’s INTENT (just like the case with so many other Rulings, such as whether a player took a stroke, whether the player was “caring for the course”, etc.). If I were on the Committee, I would ask the player to tell me about his hailstone removal process… how exactly was it accomplished, and what was he thinking in the process? If the player then directly incriminated himself (as in stating, “I was trying to make a pathway to the hole.”), I would rule that he breached Rule 13.1c and assess the General Penalty. Conversely, if the player did not then directly incriminate himself, I would have to rule that there was no breach of the Rules, and no penalty.

  26. Conor maguire says

    BRIAN, in your comment re “hailstones” you did not address the question what was the player supposed to do ! he had no other option but to clear a path to the hole. This was a local abnormal course condition and should be dealt with by the committee.

  27. Martin Maher says

    I think this is ok…snow and natural ice can be seen as loose impediments… I would think hail is natural ice (frozen water)… I’m no expert though…

  28. Yelverton Tegner says

    You are not allowed to improve the putting green by taking actions that exceed what is reasonable. Rule 13.1(c).
    The player get the general penalty

  29. jide Allen says

    To remove loose impediments on the putting surface is allowed,to the extent that it doesn’t create a pathway for the put like we have in this picture. A complete wipe of the hail would have been acceptable. Looking forward to the final verdict on this.

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