Practice During A Suspension
ARDMORE, Pa. – When play was suspended during the first round at the U.S. Open, it was for a dangerous situation (lightning). Because of this, the course and all practice areas were closed until the danger passed. The practice range and putting green, which are located at the West Course, were opened approximately 45 minutes before the scheduled resumption, allowing players who were on the course to get warmed up.
After the players were shuttled back to the East Course and had walked back to their respective holes there was a short delay while the Rules staff ensured that everyone was ready for the resumption. A question was asked regarding practice on the putting green of the hole most recently completed. The referees were told that a player who had completed play of a hole, but not yet started the next hole could practice as allowed in the Rules before the resumption of play.
While many people think that it is against the Rules to practice on the putting green of the hole just completed, Rule 7-2 – Practice; During Round allows for a player to practice putting or chipping to the green of the hole just completed as long as no shots are played from hazards (bunkers, water or lateral water) and play is not unduly delayed. Unduly delaying play would occur if the practice prevented the group behind from playing or delayed the group in question from starting the next hole. An Exception to this Rule also says that practice is allowed before the resumption.
The reason many people believe this type of practice is prohibited is because the PGA Tour doesn’t allow it. Note 2 to Rule 7-2 allows the Committee, in the conditions of the competition, to prohibit practice on or near the putting green of the last hole played. The Tour implements this prohibition while the USGA does not.
One should always be aware of the conditions of competition and Local Rules in force at the course where you are playing or the competition you are playing in.
Written by John Van der Borght, manager of Rules communications for the USGA.