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My wedge approach landed on the fringe, created a huge ball mark, popped out of it, and came to rest an inch behind the mark. Naturally, that mark was directly on my line to the hole. I’d have preferred to putt the ball, but the depth of the mark made that impossible… unless I can fix the mark before making my stroke. The approach never touched the green — does that make a difference? —Joe Scopel, Maryland
Indeed, it does make a difference, Joe — if the pitch mark were on the green then you could fix it … but it isn’t, so you can’t.
Please refer to Rule 8.1; you are not allowed to eliminate irregularities that improve your conditions affecting the stroke — in this case, the line of play. You’ll have to take your chances putting or chipping over it … or, we suppose, go around it, but that would just be kind of sad.
For more ball-mark-related guidance from our guru, read on …
My pal’s approach shot landed a foot short and right of the hole and spun back to 10 feet. It left a big pitch mark, which he didn’t repair. Naturally, he pushed his putt off line, and the mark rerouted his ball into the cup. Unfair! Do the Rules require you to repair a ball mark? —Kevin McNees, via email
If this were the basketball shooting game H-O-R-S-E (yes, RG knows his hoops, too), this player would have been required to call “bank” beforehand for the shot to count.
Alas, not so in golf. While repairing a pitch mark is obviously encouraged behavior, and anyone can repair anyone else’s pitch mark on the putting green, your playing partner was simply playing the course as he found it. As they also say on the hardwood, “No harm, no foul.”
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