To complete my series of articles on the conditions seen on golf courses in the South, I will explain to you what our options are when the ball is on or near the green and we want to use our putter.
What can be repaired on a green?
We may repair almost any damage on a putting green. But we are not allowed to repair conditions that result from normal practices for maintaining the overall condition of a putting green (such as aeration holes and grooves from vertical mowing).
EXCEPTION: A local rule may provide a relief for those conditions.
Drains or sprinklers on the line of play
The Rules of Golf permit a free relief when the player’s ball touches an obstruction and also when the obstruction physically interferes with the player’s area of intended stance or of intended swing.
Sometimes the sprinkler is positioned between the flag and the ball. Without a local rule, we may not have a free relief for the line of play. When the local rule is in effect, the obstruction must be less than two club lengths from the green and the ball must be less than two club lengths from the obstruction.
In Florida the FSGA adopted that local rule and it is in effect on all the Florida Golf Courses.
In Québec, without the local rule, you must play the ball where it lies.
After a ball has been marked on a green, we must always replace the ball exactly where it was before marking it. If the ball sits in an aeration hole, we must replace it in the hole. It is only when a local rule is in effect that we may replace the ball elsewhere. Most of the Golf associations have that local rule. In Canada, I think the only province that has that local rule is Ontario for amateur golfers.
In Quebec, in May and June, most of the golf courses have aeration holes. Make sure you check if a local rule is in effect in your area.
This local rule covers also any aeration holes in the short grass anywhere in the general area.
PENALTY: Everybody that has moved the ball in 2019 because of aeration holes, should consider they had a penalty of two strokes each time they were in breach because most of the time, the local rule was not in effect.
In Quebec and Ontario, only the competitors playing in an East Coast Pro Tour (ECPT) or a Great Lakes Tour (GLT) are covered by this local rule for all the tournaments in the season.
On the Mackenzie Tour, ECPT and GLT, the annual local rule covers the relief for an obstruction near the putting green.