Rules Guy: Can you cancel a conceded putt before your opponent picks up their ball?

hand reaching for ball on green

The Rules of Golf are tricky! Thankfully, we’ve got the guru. Our Rules Guy knows the book front to back. Got a question? He’s got all the answers.

My opponent hit a downhill putt to within six inches of the cup, and I quickly conceded the tap-in. Too quickly, as it turned out, because the ball started to move again, rolling past the hole and down a tier. It was still gathering speed and about to roll off the green when my opponent picked it up and, laughing, thanked me for a generous concession. Could I have canceled the concession prior to him touching the ball? —Carl Herbermann, Annapolis, MD

To the notion of “buyer’s remorse” — like the $500 driver that has decidedly not added 20 yards to Rules Guy’s drives — we can now add “giver’s remorse.”

Carl, a golfer’s word is his bond, and once you said something to the effect of “That’s good,” “Take it away” et al, the concession is irrevocable under Rule 3.2b.

Yes, whether natural forces caused the ball to move after it was at rest or if the ball was in fact still in motion. It’s irrelevant because in either case the next stroke was already conceded.

Laugh it off, too, my good man — win or lose, you have a fine story to tell at the 19th hole!

For more concession-related guidance from our guru, read on …

Rules Guy: If you concede a putt to your match-play opponent, can you hit it for practice?
By: Rules Guy

In a four-ball match, Player A is putting for par on the same line that Player B, his partner, has a closer putt for birdie. B prepares to watch his partner’s putt to learn the break. I concede A’s par putt and tell him to pick it up; he refuses and putts anyway. Is this permitted? If not, does the team lose the hole? Is one of the players penalized — and if so, which one? —Katherine Larin, via email 

No “good” deed goes unpunished? Wrong, wrong, wrong! In this instance, ignoring your (very clever) “That’s good, pick it up” incurs a penalty under the exception to Rule 23.6.

Normally in match play, players are permitted to putt out after a concession — but not in four-ball in a situation only when doing so you can help your partner.

Once you conceded A’s putt, he has completed play on the hole, in this case making a par. When he went ahead and putted to help show B the line, a penalty is incurred, namely, B (not A) is out of the hole, and his score can’t count. Also, both players on the team get an F for Rules knowledge.

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Got a question about the Rules? Ask the Rules Guy! Send your queries, confusions and comments to We promise he won’t throw the book at you.

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