Rules Guy: What do you do when one hole is in your way on a shared green?

St Andrews shared green

What do the rules say about holes on a shared green?

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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.

I play regularly on a 9-hole course. It has two cups per hole — a red flag is used for the front nine and a blue flag for the back nine. What am I supposed to do when a cup that isn’t being used blocks my putting line for the one that is being used, i.e., the red-flag cup is on my path to the blue-flag cup? —Moses Dabai, Benin City, Nigeria

Moses, you need not part the seas. (A little Old Testament humor never hurts, right?)

When two holes are on a single green, the hole not in use is considered by definition to be ground under repair. As such, if your ball is on the green you’re permitted free relief if the other hole intervenes on the line of play, and the procedure under Rule 16.1d applies.

Were your ball off the putting green, you’d just have to follow the 11th commandment and do your best to avoid the other hole.

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

Ball in hole
Rules Guy: What do you do when you discover your original ball in the hole after playing another one?
By: Rules Guy

My tee shot landed 6 inches from the cup … but by the time we reached the green, the superintendent had changed the hole location — now my ball was 35 feet away! This led to a heated debate. My partners said that I had to play to the new location; I argued that I should be able to use my judgment about whether I would have made my putt to the hole’s original spot.
—Don Pearson, Portland, Ore. 

To make plain the folly of permitting one’s “judgment” to govern the situation, let’s pretend your ball was six feet from the hole rather than six inches. Now, are you going to make it, or miss it?

Correct answer: Who the heck knows? Here’s the proper way to handle it: Play to the new hole and consider yourself lucky to have a truly great sob story to tell in perpetuity.

Need help unriddling the greens at your home course? Pick up a custom Green Book from 8AM Golf affiliate 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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