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Continuous Putting

Continuous putting is an unofficial rule

designed to speed up play.


Continuous Putting is part of Ready Golf. There are a number of guidelines when deciding whether to putt or mark your ball. By following these guidelines you will avoid careless mistakes.

Slow Play

The rule to help speed up play is that once it is your turn to putt, you should continue to putt until you hole out, unless in doing so you would stand on another player's line.

Under the Official Rules of Golf you are allowed to carry on putting without penalty in Stroke Play, even though technically you are playing out of turn.

In Match Play if you putt out of turn, your opponent can require you to cancel your stroke, replace your ball and putt again when it is your turn.

Ready Golf

Continuous play is part of Ready Golf – a method to reduce the time it takes to complete a round. Ready Golf is exactly what its name suggests.

Play your shot when you are ready even if you have to play out of turn. The only proviso is that you should not put other members of your group in danger.

Short Putts

So how do you decide when to carry on putting and when to mark your ball and wait your turn? Generally the dilemma only arises when you are left with a short putt.

Standing on Player's LineStanding on
Player's Line

In social golf an opponent may come to your rescue and knock away your ball as being good when it is situated 'inside the leather'. This expression derives from the time when grips were made of leather.

Today if you take a standard length putter of 35 inches with a grip of 11 inches, the 'gimme' is about two feet.

Take Care

Failure to sink a short putt can unnerve you more than any other length of putt. In the opinion of Bobby Jones rank carelessness causes many short putts to be missed.

Some of you may recall the back-hand whiff of Hale Irwin in 1983 at the British Open - a tournament that he eventually lost by one shot.

I have some rough guidelines on whether to putt or wait. What you want to avoid is a case of 'Putt in Haste, Regret at Leisure'. This is often caused when you are anxious not to hold up play.

Continuous Putting

Remember there is no recovery from a missed putt.

  • Every putt counts for one shot and deserve proper attention, irrespective of its length.
  • If an opponent concedes a putt, pick up the ball. Don't make a half-hearted attempt to hole it later. It won't affect the result, but you will develop sloppy habits.
  • If you have to adopt an awkward stance to avoid another player's line or feel rushed, mark the ball and wait your turn.
  • Only consider holing out if your putt is no longer than your putter grip. In other words under one foot - a genuine tap-in.
  • Putt every putt if you can rather than accept a 'gimme'. When you have to sink a similar short putt in competition, your putt will seem more daunting as you will have had no practice.

Pre-putt Routine

When you putt, you should always go through your pre-putt routine. Continuous putting does not mean rushing your stroke. If you need to speed up play, speed up before you reach the green.

It is important to give every short putt your best effort. This is how to build your confidence and strengthen your putting nerve.

If you miss a short putt through carelessness - always a possibility with continuous putting - it will stick in your mind and undermine your confidence well after the round is over.

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pre-putt routine