Trying to move some clutter but worried about testing the putting surface? Our Rules of Golf guru is on hand with all you need to know

There are some actions on the green that are just a no-no. In golf’s rules Monopoly, they are do not pass Go and go directly to jail.

You’ll get into trouble, for instance, if you are trying to discover information about how a ball might roll on a putting surface.

But what if you find yourself in Terry Collins’ situation? He emailed to ask: “I have been told recently that if after you have marked and lifted your ball on the green you then proceed to wipe your ball on the green itself in order to clean it you will incur a two-shot penalty. Is this true?”

So what’s the score then? Is using the putting green to shift a bit of mud from your ball going to end in tears? Let’s find out.

Is cleaning your golf ball on the green allowed?

If this one was against the rules, I’d have been in trouble too many times to count over the years.

It is true that you must not deliberately test the putting green and Rule 13.1e says these actions include rubbing the surface or rolling a ball. The sanction for doing so is the general penalty – so two shots in stroke play and loss of hole in match play.

But it’s the word “deliberately” that forms the basis of the rule and essentially answers Terry’s question.

Are you purposely testing the green when cleaning some debris off your ball?

An interpretation to Rule 13.1e goes into some examples about what would, and wouldn’t, be deliberately testing a putting green.

If you roughen up, or scrape the green, to find out which way the grain is going, then take yourselves off to golf rules prison.

But here’s an action that is not a breach: “A player rubs a ball on the putting green to clean off mud.”

Let’s all celebrate. My honour – along with many of yours, I would suspect – is still intact.

Have a question for our Rules of Golf expert?

Despite the simplification of the Rules of Golf at the beginning of 2019, there are still some that leave us scratching our heads. And as I’ve passed the R&A’s level 2 rules exam with distinction, I am more than happy to help and I’ll feature the best in this column. I’ve obviously been quite popular in recent weeks as I’ve got a huge backlog of enquiries and I’ll try to come back to you in due course.

Click here for the full Rules of Golf explained archive and details of how to submit a question to our expert.

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