How long can a golfer wait for a ball hanging on the lip of the cup to fall in the hole?
Golf Culture

How long can a golfer wait for a ball hanging on the lip of the cup to fall in the hole?


You've just hit a great putt or a great chip. The ball rolls all the way up to the hole, gets to the lip and looks like it's about to go in the hole. Instead, the golf ball hangs over the lip and it stops. Agonizing.

The good news is that, under the Rules of Golf, you have some time to wait to see if the wind, rain, an act of God or some other invisible force will push your ball in the hole.

How many seconds can a player wait for a putt to drop in the hole?

Under the Rules of Golf (Rule 13-3, formerly Rule 16-2), a player can hit their shot, wait for the ball to stop, and then the clock starts ticking. Per the Rules of Golf:

"When any part of the ball overhangs the lip of the hole, the player is allowed enough time to reach the hole without unreasonable delay and an additional 10 seconds to determine whether the ball is at rest. If by then the ball has not fallen into the hole, it is deemed to be at rest. If the ball subsequently falls into the hole, the player is deemed to have holed out with his last stroke, and must add a penalty stroke to his score for the hole; otherwise, there is no penalty under this Rule."

What constitutes "unreasonable delay" is uncertain, but basically it's not lollygagging. So, a player can take an appropriate amount of time to get to the hole for the length of putt they had, then they can wait 10 seconds. For a short putt, that means a player probably has a total of 12-15 seconds for the ball to drop in the hole, combining the walk and the 10 seconds. For a long putt, a player has closer to 20 seconds to wait for the putt to drop.

So, the next time your jaw has dropped because that ball didn't go in the hole, you might just want to wait 10 or so seconds.

About the author

Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee is founder and editor of Golf News Net. He has been writing and broadcasting about golf for nearly 20 years. Ballengee lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He is currently a +2.6 USGA handicap, and he has covered dozens of major championships and professional golf tournaments. He likes writing about golf and making it more accessible by answering the complex questions fans have about the pro game or who want to understand how to play golf better.

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