Rules Guy: Are putters allowed to exceed 48 inches in length?

A golfer putting at the Hazeltine National Golf Course during the 2002 PGA Championship.

What do the rules say about putter length?

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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.

A buddy and I got into an argument about the rule involving club length. The rule states: “The overall length of the club must be at least 18 inches and, except for putters, must not exceed 48 inches.” My friend says the 48-inch limit applies to putters, and I say it doesn’t. For context, I was arguing for an absurd situation that involves carrying a second putter that’s 20 feet long to be used only for one-club-length drops. —Joseph Wooden, Bakersfield, Calif.

You’re both right, although your buddy is maybe more right.

The 48-inch limit does not apply to putters … but the definition of club length is the longest club in your bag other than your putter.

Schlep that 20-foot putter around if you want, but drop outside the proper club length and it’s a two-stroke penalty in stroke play and loss of hole in match play.

golfer holding ball in putter
Rules Guy: My friend’s ball got stuck in his putter after his stroke. What now?
By: Rules Guy

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

When I just need to tweak my ball’s alignment on the green, I’ll sometimes mark its position using my putter’s clubhead, kept in a fixed position. I do so primarily to speed up play. In a recent match, however, my partner freaked out, afraid that I would be called for a penalty. Is there any cause for concern? —David Shull, via email

While Rules Guy always applauds any effort to improve pace of play, you may be taking the notion that “every second counts” a bit far—how long does it take to fetch a marker from your pocket?

Regardless, you can tell your anxious partner to chill out, as the kids say. (Do they still say that?)

Rule 14.1 allows you to mark the ball in either of two ways: You can put a ball-marker right behind, or next to, the ball; or you can do the same holding a club on the ground. While most of us opt for the former, you do you. (Do the kids still say that, too?)

Need help unriddling the greens at your home course? Pick up a custom Green Book from Golf Logix.

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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