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Rules of Golf explained: Help! I thought my opponent conceded my putt

Was it good or not? You've got yourselves into a tangle over the concession of a putt. Let's see if the Rules of Golf can help you out
 

In my mind it’s always Jack Nicklaus putting his arm around Tony Jacklin. In reality it’s usually Suzann Pettersen going off on one at the Solheim Cup.

Get a concession wrong and you’re basically lighting a fuse. It’s also fertile ground for anyone engaged in the dark arts of match play.

So I was delighted to see Jan email the following: “A player in match play putts close and his opponent says ‘good putt’. The player mistakenly thinks this is a concession and picks up. What governs whether he has a penalty when replacing, or whether there is none?’

What do you think? Is the player facing a penalty for getting it wrong, or do they have some salvation? Let’s get stuck in…

Rules of Golf explained: Our expert says…

There’s a lot riding on this and the Rules of Golf address it in Rule 3.2b (2) How Concessions Are Made.

“A concession is made only when clearly communicated: This can be done either verbally or by an action that clearly shows the player’s intent to concede the stroke, the hole or the match (such as making a gesture).”

It adds: “If the opponent lifts his or her ball in breach of a Rule because of a reasonable misunderstanding that the player’s statement or action was a concession of the next stroke or a hole or the match, there is no penalty and the ball must be replaced on its original spot (which if not known must be estimated).”

What constitutes a reasonable misunderstanding? That’s the key and there can be some subjectivity in that. But common sense can also apply and remember players are always expected to play by the Rules and the spirit of the game.

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.

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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