Rules Guy: Is it illegal to putt while standing on the opposite side of the hole?

Golf ball, putter and boy's legs on green

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

Getty Images

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 …

putter on green
Rules Guy: Does your putting stroke *have* to include a backswing?
By: Rules Guy

I was putting on the practice green at my club when an idea struck: Hold my right hand on the shaft down low — like, 10 inches from the clubhead — while keeping my left hand on the grip. Works for hockey slapshots, right? Sure enough, I start draining them from everywhere. At this point, another member came over to me and said this was illegal, that both hands must be on the grip. True? What if I didn’t want any grip on my putter? And didn’t Happy Gilmore putt this way? I don’t recall anyone giving him a hard time. — Joe Lahaye, Brick, N.J.

Rules Guy seems to recall that Bob Barker gave Gilmore a hard time. But we digress.

There’s nothing that RG can find in the rules that requires both hands to be on the grip. You do, however, have to be careful not to (a) push the ball with this hockey stick grip, or (b) create an anchor point by anchoring the hand on the grip against your body and create a pendulum that way. (In hockey terms, a slapshot would be okay; a wrist shot would not.)

Either of those mistakes would be a breach of Rule 10.1, either Rule 10.1a for the push or Rule 10.1b for the anchor. Plus, two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct.

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.

generic profile image