There is quite a lot of confusion regarding putting green etiquette, and it is something that is not automatic or set in stone. The following is our comprehensive guide to putting green etiquette that is sure to enhance your pace of play and good manners.
Please note that all tournament play references refer to stroke play. The rules and penalties for match play may vary.
1. Which player is responsible for the flag?
In general, the player whose ball is nearest the hole will mark his ball and ask if anyone wants the flag tended or left in. If yes, he waits until all of the players are on the green. If not, then he removes the flag.
2. Where is the flag placed?
In casual rounds, usually the flag is placed close to the players but not in an area where a putt could strike the flag and incur a penalty. Ideally, the flag is set just off of the putting surface.
3. What parts of the green should I avoid walking on?
Avoid stepping on the line of another player’s putt. Also, don’t walk around in another player’s field of vision when they are preparing to putt. When picking your ball up, try keeping your feet outside of a three-foot circle surrounding the hole.
4. The hole appears to be damaged. Should I try to fix it?
In casual play, it is considerate to do this before anyone putts. In a tournament, you should not try to fit before your group putts out.
5. Who putts first?
In a tournament, the player whose ball is farthest from the hole, whether off or on the green, putts first. In casual rounds, players off of the green are invited to “come up” before the flag is removed.
6. If I miss my putt should I go ahead and finish?
Yes, and it isn’t necessary to ask. Just say, “I’ll finish.”
7. I am concerned that my marker or ball is in another player’s way. Should I move it?
No, you don’t need to worry. It is up to the other player to request that your marker is moved or for your ball to be marked. However, in this situation, you may want to try to use a small, flat one when possible.
8. Where should I stand while another player is putting?
Do not stand directly opposite or directly behind the player, even if you are standing in the rough. The idea here is to not be in the other player’s peripheral vision. Try to go in a place that allows you to study your putt. That way you will be prepared to go when it is your turn and help speed up the pace of play.
9. Who puts the flag back?
The first player who finishes putting moves the flagstick and then prepares to put it back into the hole. Some players will be riding in a variety of golf cart models and some are walking, for pace-of-play, the riders can restore the flagstick as the walkers head out to the next hole.