fbpx
outside agency

How much time can I spend clearing leaves off the green?

Trees are shedding all over the putting surface and it’s causing issues? Our Rules of Golf guru is here to help

 

I love Autumn. The golf course is full of beautiful colours and it’s still warm enough to convince you that winter isn’t about to pounce. What I love less about the season is that trees start losing their leaves and, for golfers, that means trouble.

If your golf course has a penchant for being an environmental refuge then the green can get particularly covered and you can have loads of them blocking your line.

Now, everyone knows that unattached leaves are loose impediments and can you can usually remove them anywhere and in any way under Rule 15.1. There’s also no penalty for accidentally causing the ball to move if you do it while removing loose impediments on the putting green under Rule 13.1d (1).

But how long can you spend doing a bit of sweeping? Is there a time limit if you’re trying to clear a way to the hole? Let’s have a look…

leaves on the green

What can I do about leaves on the green?

Can you swish away with abandon? No, you need to make sure that what you’re doing is not unreasonably delaying play. Otherwise, you’d spend all day picking up every tiny little leaf that might affect your putt on the way to the hole.

So what’s an unreasonable delay? For that, we can scan a clarification to Rule 5.6a, which states that it is actions that are ‘within the player’s control and affect other players or delay the competition’.

Brief delays, on the other hand, that are a ‘result of normal events that happen during a round or are outside the player’s control’ are generally considered to be reasonable.

To figure out what is unreasonable, or not, you have to consider the circumstances and that includes ‘whether the player is waiting for other players in the group or the group ahead’.

As you’ll probably have figured out by now, if you use your common sense you’ll stay out of trouble here.

If you’ve got people waiting behind you, or you’re at risk of holding up your own group, don’t spend too long mopping up leaves. A breach of Rule 5.6a comes with a penalty of one stroke for the first time and two shots for a second, or loss of hole in match play. It’s three strikes and out for those who just won’t learn. A third breach means disqualification.

But if you do find yourself a bit strapped for time, don’t think that means you need bear the burden alone.

You are allowed to ask for help in removing loose impediments so don’t be shy in getting those playing partners involved!

Got a question for our expert?

Despite the changes to the Rules of Golf in 2019 and 2023, there are still some that leave us scratching our heads. I’ll try to help by featuring the best of your queries in this column.

What do you think about these rules about leaves on the green? Let me know 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

rules of golf mistakes

Rules of Golf

5 Rules of Golf mistakes you’re all making

By

Read full article about 5 Rules of Golf mistakes you’re all making
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!