Sometimes when you watch golfers compete in match play on TV, you’ll see them practice putting after a hole ends. And, under the Rules of Golf, a golfer is allowed to drop a ball or two on the green after a hole is finished and work on their stroke. Actually, golfers are allowed to do this in a stroke play tournament as well, provided they’re not holding up the proceedings.
However, the kinds of practice shots a golfer can hit after a hole is completed are limited to basically on or around the putting surface. In the Rules of Golf, Rule 7-2 dictates where a golfer can practice and the shot they can hit. Golfers are limited to hitting practice shots in three areas of the course:
- the putting green of the hole last played,
- any practice putting green, or
- the teeing ground of the next hole to be played in the round, provided a practice stroke is not made from a hazard and does not unduly delay play
So that means a golfer can’t stroll back into the fairway and replay that chunked wedge. They can’t rehit any shot that basically led to the area around then green. Practice bunker shots are out as well.
If a player makes an improper practice stroke after a hole is played, the penalty in match play is the loss of the next hole. In stroke play, it’s a two-stroke penalty. And, in team match play, if one player breaks the rule, they’re disqualified from the next hole.