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

Here is a golf rules question that pops up from time to time; can you brush away sand from the green?

bunker sand 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.

Sand and loose soil are considered to be ‘loose impediments‘ (rule 23) on the putting green only. This does not apply anywhere else on the golf course, including the fringe of the green. If there is any loose soil or sand there, don’t touch or remove it or you will incur a two-stroke penalty.

But if we’re talking about sand on the putting green, you’re clear to clear.

Rule 16-1 a(i) clearly outlines the rule:

16-1. General
a. Touching Line of Putt
The line of putt must not be touched except:
(i) the player may remove loose impediments, provided he does not press anything down;

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

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