Rules Guy: Is it legal to stand on the opposite side of the hole to hit your putt?

player straddling putt

What do the rules say about putting from the opposite side of the hole?

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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.

Is it permissible to stand on the opposite side of the hole to hit or, basically, to hook your putt? This would entail straddling the line of the putt or, to be more precise, its through line.
—Colin Mavor, St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland

A question from the Home of Golf, how thrilling! And a good one at that (though we would have expected nothing less)!

Colin, a player’s line of play is where he wishes the ball to go after a stroke; unless said player wishes for the ball to go beyond the hole after the attempted tap-in, the line of play ends at the hole.

Ergo, the player wouldn’t be straddling the line of play in breach of Rule 10.1c. Our only concern: Your use of the word “hook.” The ball still must be fairly struck, not pushed, scraped or scooped. So long as that’s the case, reaching across the hole to tap the ball in isn’t a problem.

For more putting guidance from our guru, read on …

Ball by tree
Rules Guy: Is it legal to use the back of your putter to hit a shot?
By: Rules Guy

My wife has one of those putters that stands on its own as she surveys her line. I know the rules state that in team competition I can’t stand behind my partner and align her as she’s taking her stance, but is it permissible for me to align the putter for my wife so that she can simply grip it and roll her putt?
—Mike Sprouts, Wallburg, N.C.

Rules Guy once tried to align Mrs. Rules Guy on the course; she threatened to realign the balatas in his bag, so to speak.

That said, since this is all prior to making the stroke and Mrs. Sprouts hasn’t begun to take her stance, you and your betrothed aren’t running afoul of Rule 10.2(b)5 (which regards physical help making a stroke) or Rule 10.2(b)4 (aka “the caddie rule”), respectively. You’re just using a weird putter as it was intended to be used (sort of) and sowing seeds of marital discord.

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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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