Rule 25-3: The Wrong Putting Green

Shona McRae, Manager – Rules of Golf, explains how to take relief from a Wrong Putting Green.


This time we examine what happens when your ball comes to rest on a wrong putting green.

The starting point is the Definition of “Wrong Putting Green”, which is a term defined in the Rules of Golf.  A wrong putting green is any putting green other than that of the hole being played.  So any other green on the course, including those used for practice, is a wrong putting green.

Due to the care and maintenance involved in preparing putting greens, it is desirable to protect the surface at all times – nobody, least of all greenkeepers, wants to see players taking chunks out of putting greens. Consequently, wrong putting greens are dealt with as a separate entity under Rule 25-3 to prevent any unnecessary damage. 


Q. So when am I entitled to relief?

A player has interference from a wrong putting green when his ball is touching or lying on the putting surface; only then is a player entitled to relief without penalty.  Interference to a player’s stance or the area of the intended swing is not, of itself, interference under Rule 25-3. 


Q.  And how do I take relief?

To take relief, the player must lift the ball and drop it within one club-length of, and not nearer the hole than, the nearest point of relief from the putting green.  As stance and the area of intended swing are not included in interference under this Rule, the nearest point of relief is likely to be just off the wrong putting green.  When the ball is dropped, it must strike a part of the course that is not on the putting green or in a hazard.  It is worth noting that under this Rule, the ball may be cleaned when it is lifted.


Q. But what happens if I drop the ball and find that I am still standing on the putting green.  Have I taken full relief?

Yes.  Interference only exists on a wrong putting green for the lie of the ball.  Therefore, a player can stand on the putting green to play the ball once relief has been taken.


Q.  The aprons around the green are also well-maintained.  Is there any relief from these?

Generally, there is no relief from the apron.  However, the Committee in charge of the competition may make a Local Rule requiring that a ball be dropped not only clear of the putting surface, but also clear of the apron.  So for the purpose of applying Rule 25-3, under such a Local Rule, the wrong putting green can also include the apron surrounding the green.


Q.  And finally, double-greens.  Does Rule 25-3 apply to a double-green?

A double-green is one putting green that is shared by two holes: the second and 16th holes on the Old Course are a perfect example. If, while playing the 16th, a ball comes to rest on a part of the green close to the flagstick for the second hole, as this is one putting green, Rule 25-3 does not apply.  The player must play the ball as it lies, even if it requires a putt of 50 yards or more!