fbpx
movable obstruction

What happens if my putt hits the nearest the pin marker?

Has your ball been driven off course after clattering into the closest to the hole pole? Our Rules of Golf expert reveals what you need to know

 

Who doesn’t love a nearest the pin competition? You can be having a stinking round but still win a prize with one good shot. Ah, what a thing hope can be.

Clubs have different ways of marking out who’s closest. Some will have a little yellow ball, some a tape measure on the side of the green with instructions to follow.

Others, and this is still the case at clubs I’ve played at, can have a medal card on a spike onto which the proud owner of the current closest stroke writes their name.

Sometimes, when you’re putting, these things might be in the way and this led Bob to email me and ask: “Our vets use a ball on a spike to mark the NTP, rather than use a tape measure to determine the nearest the pin.

“So, when a spike is stuck in the green, is there a penalty should a player’s ball on the green hit the spike?”

Ball hits movable obstruction on the putting green

Let’s get the most common scenario – and the one that most of you will do – out of the way first. The nearest the pin marker is a movable obstruction. Shift it, taking care to note its position, putt and then stick it back where it was when you’re done. All good.

But’s that not the end of it. Let’s say you’ve accidentally moved your own ball when getting the marker of the way.

No problem, there is no penalty here. Make sure you replace the ball on its original spot as directed by Rule 15.2a. If you don’t and then make a stroke, then you’ll pick up the general penalty (two shots or loss of hole in match play) for playing from a wrong place.

Now, let’s look at Bob’s main question: if the ball hits the nearest the pin marker from a putt. The key thing to consider here is intent.

Rule 11.1b says that when a ball in motion played from a putting green accidentally hits a movable obstruction on the putting green, the player must replay the stroke from the original spot.

Before you all start shouting hooray, thinking you’re going to get another go, hold your horses.

If you left that nearest the pin marker in place, knowing there was a chance it could assist you by hitting it, then you must play it as it lies.

Great if it’s deflected into the hole, not so great if it’s brought your ball to a clattering halt six feet from home.

The contact must be accidental. You’re going to have a hard time convincing a rules official, or your playing partners for that matter, if you’ve left a big pole in a place where it could be struck by a putt.

Now, there are some reasons you might keep it where it is. Say, for example, you had a tricky downhill putt and the marker was sitting behind the flag.

The rules do allow you to essentially use it as a backstop and you would not be penalised. You can even order someone to put it back if they move it without your approval.

But don’t go and move it into position yourself. That’s a breach of Rule 11.2 and comes with another of those two-shot sanctions.   

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 3 rules exam with distinction, I’ll try to help by featuring the best in this column.

What do you think about this movable obstruction rule? Have you hit the nearest the pin marker by mistake? Let me know how you got on by leaving a comment on X.

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

Latest Posts

2023 Rules of Golf changes replacing golf ball on spot

Rules of Golf

England Golf extend period for preferred lies

By

Read full article about England Golf extend period for preferred lies
rules beginner

Rules of Golf

What are the key rules beginner golfers should know?

By

Read full article about What are the key rules beginner golfers should know?
Want to play the same game as the pros? That means playing the same Rules!

Rules of Golf

Want to play the same game as the pros? That means playing the same Rules!

By

Read full article about Want to play the same game as the pros? That means playing the same Rules!
gary woodland

Rules of Golf

Can you look into a player’s bag to see what club they’re using?

By

Read full article about Can you look into a player’s bag to see what club they’re using?
winter rules

Rules of Golf

5 Winter Rules Golfers Break!

By

Read full article about 5 Winter Rules Golfers Break!
golf divot

Rules of Golf

My ball has landed on a divot – can I move it?

By

Read full article about My ball has landed on a divot – can I move it?
animal scrapings

Rules of Golf

Do I get free relief from animal scrapings?

By

Read full article about Do I get free relief from animal scrapings?
rule changes

Rules of Golf

5 Rule Changes You Need To Know!

By

Read full article about 5 Rule Changes You Need To Know!
Golf club committee

Rules of Golf

The prizes were handed out but the committee got my score wrong – should the results be changed?

By

Read full article about The prizes were handed out but the committee got my score wrong – should the results be changed?