Rules Guy: What do you when your opponent concedes a tap-in, but the ball then falls into the hole?

golf ball drops in

What do the rules say about a putt that drops after the next stroke has already been conceded?

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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.

In a recent singles match, my 10-footer for a halve stops right on the lip. On my way to the hole, I joke to my opponent, “I suppose you’re not going to give that to me.” He responds, “That’s good.” As I bend down to pick up my ball — within the 10-second limit from my stroke — it falls in the hole for par and a tie. Or did the ironic “concession” negate this and give me a losing bogey? — Brad Swartentruber, Nampa, Idaho

Mr. Swartentruber, verily it did not — you tied the hole. (Rules Guy won’t leave you hanging.)

The applicable rules are 3.2b(1) and 13.3. If the 10-second limit hasn’t been reached, you’re allowed to see whether the ball will fall into the hole and if it does, the ball is holed with the previous stroke.

An opponent may concede the player’s next stroke even while the ball is still in motion and the result of the stroke is not yet determined; in this case, the opponent’s concession becomes a moot point when the stroke itself becomes holed.

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Rules Guy: How do you score a match when a hole plays as both a par 4 and par 5 from different tees?
By: Rules Guy

For more match-play guidance from our guru, read on …

In match play, my shot and my opponent’s land on the green. My opponent concedes my birdie putt, then putts my ball into the hole before attempting his putt to halve. Is this legal? — Bill Dolbow, West Palm Beach, Fla.

Golf, or at least its rules, can be a funny thing: Your opponent’s action is only legal if it wasn’t really putting. If he had merely been attempting to return your ball to you or get the ball out of the way and then the hole simply got in the way, he’s in the clear.

If instead he was performing some kind of trial run for his own putt, maybe hoping to glean information on, say, green speed or the break — i.e., practicing — he violated Rule 5.5(a), with the penalty being loss of hole in match play. Moral of the story: A gentle toss of the ball to your opponent is the safe way to go.

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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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