For years pro golfers have fixed ball marks in their lines, increasingly without consulting their playing partners. The governing bodies presumably have created the new green damage repair rule to allow this sometimes questionable improvement of a putting line.
Doug Ferguson of AP considers what will become of the rule now that players have arrived at the sometimes bumpier and more-prone-to-damage poa annua greens at Torrey Pines. Players are still unsure how much can be damaged.
“At Kapalua, I fixed ball marks, but I was only tapping them down because it was Bermuda,” Xander Schauffele said. “Out here, you might do a little more than a simple tap down. ... This place, late in the day, it feels like you’re playing a game of Plinko.”
Schauffele was quick to note one part of the new rule: Damage can be repaired without unusual delay.
“It could, depending on how these players take the rule to heart ... if you’re trying to fix a 40-foot putt, it’s going to be tricky with pace of play,” Schauffele said. “Rules officials will be on us. The time clock hasn’t changed. If you want to spend 35 seconds tapping down the line, you’re going to have to pull the trigger in less than what you normally do.”
I penned this item for Golfweek with Rory McIlroy’s slight concerns about what is and what is not damage. The piece also includes video of what a spikeless-shoe green can look like after a day of play. Granted, 1080p and modern contrast makes the greens look way worse than they are given how far Torrey’s surfaces have come since Tiger’s infamous bouncing putt in the 2008 U.S. Open.
To be clear: the greens are excellent. Smooth as bent in the afternoon? No. But compared to poa of 20 years ago, there is no comparison.