What do the rules say about putting one-handed?
The Rules of Golf are tricky! Thankfully, we’ve got the guru. Our Rules Guy knows the book front to back. Got a question? He’s got all the answers.
On putts of three feet or less, I often putt one-handed, with the ball to the side of my body — picture a bullfighter swinging his cape outward. During a recent round, a playing partner told me that this putting stroke was illegal. My understanding was that one-handed putting is only illegal when the ball is between your feet — like a croquet swing. — Joseo Acosta, via email
Rules Guy often gets questions regarding potential illegal putting styles, Joseo, and croquet in particular, but we can’t recall one that references bullfighting, too. You are clearly a Renaissance man, one with a zesty stroke, and our kind of fellow.
As to the specifics: The rules prohibit making a stroke — from anywhere, not just putting — with your feet deliberately astride the line of play or an extension of the line behind the ball. There is no rule that requires you to swing with both hands, nor one that prohibits standing to the side of the line of play. (Side-saddle putting is a thing, probably with its own Facebook group.)
So, under different parts of Rule 10.1, you’re fine so long as you don’t anchor, push, scrape, scoop, or stand astride the line of play or its extension behind the ball. Olé!
For more putting-stroke guidance from our guru, read on …
I was putting on the practice green at my club when an idea struck: Hold my right hand on the shaft down low — like, 10 inches from the clubhead — while keeping my left hand on the grip. Works for hockey slapshots, right? Sure enough, I start draining them from everywhere. At this point, another member came over to me and said this was illegal, that both hands must be on the grip. True? What if I didn’t want any grip on my putter? And didn’t Happy Gilmore putt this way? I don’t recall anyone giving him a hard time. — Joe Lahaye, Brick, N.J.
Rules Guy seems to recall that Bob Barker gave Gilmore a hard time. But we digress.
There’s nothing that RG can find in the rules that requires both hands to be on the grip. You do, however, have to be careful not to (a) push the ball with this hockey stick grip, or (b) create an anchor point by anchoring the hand on the grip against your body and create a pendulum that way. (In hockey terms, a slapshot would be okay; a wrist shot wouldn’t.)
Either of those mistakes would be a breach of Rule 10.1, either Rule 10.1a for the push or Rule 10.1b for the anchor. Plus, two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct.
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