Golf rules: Can you wipe away sand from the putting green?

Can you brush away sand from the green?

Golf rules question. You’re faced with a lengthy putt on the putting green but some sand from the greenside bunker sits between you and the hole, do the golf rules allow you to remove the sand from your line?

The answer is yes.

Rule 13.1c states that:

c. Improvements Allowed on Putting Green
During a round and while play is stopped under Rule 5.7a, a player may take these two actions on the putting green, no matter whether the ball is on or off the putting green:

(1) Removal of Sand and Loose Soil. Sand and loose soil on the putting green (but not anywhere else on the course) may be removed without penalty.
(2) Repair of Damage. A player may repair damage on the putting green without penalty by taking reasonable actions to restore the putting green as nearly as possible to its original condition, but only:

  • By using his or her hand, foot or other part of the body or a normal ball-mark repair tool, tee, club or similar item of normal equipment, and
  • Without unreasonably delaying play (see Rule 5.6a).

But if the player improves the putting green by taking actions that exceed what is reasonable to restore the putting green to its original condition (such as by creating a pathway to the hole or by using an object that is not allowed), the player gets the general penalty for breach of Rule 8.1a.

It’s important to remember that in removing the sand or soil, you are not testing the condition of the green. So it’s probably best that if you’re going to remove the sand by all means by do it, but do it carefully.

Rule 13.13 says:

e. No Deliberate Testing of Greens
During a round and while play is stopped under Rule 5.7a, a player must not deliberately take either of these actions to test the putting green or a wrong green:

  • Rub the surface, or
  • Roll a ball.

Exception – Testing Greens When Between Two Holes: Between two holes, a player may rub the surface or roll a ball on the putting green of the hole just completed and on any practice green (see Rule 5.5b).

Perhaps use the back of your hand or with a towel to avoid any uncertainty.

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