Rub of the Green


How many times have you been watching golf on television when you will hear one of the on air personalities describe a bad break to a player, such as a ball landing in a divot, as “rub of the green”? This is a misuse of the term. In the Rules of Golf, under definitions, “rub of the green” is defined as: “A rub of the green occurs when a ball in motion is accidentally deflected or stopped by any outside agency (see Rule 19 -1).”

The only time you will see the term “rub of the green” in the Rules of Golf is under Rule 19 -1 Ball in Motion Deflected or Stopped which states: “If a player’s ball in motion is accidentally deflected or stopped by any outside agency, it is rub of the green, there is no penalty and the ball must be played as it lies. An example of “rub of the green” would be a when a players golf shot hits a Direction Post (Decision 19-1/1). Such a deflection is “rub of the green” and the ball must be played as it lies without penalty.

An example that is NOT “rub of the green” would be when a players ball strikes his own caddie who is standing out of bounds and the ball comes to rest out of bounds. The player incurs a penalty of one stroke (Rule 19 – 2) and, since the ball lies out of bounds, he must proceed under Rule 27 -1, incurring another penalty stroke. That is a “bad break” and not “rub of the green”.

Hope you are “Playing by the Rules”. If you have any questions regarding the Rules of Golf, please submit them to

Frank Guastella, PGA Rules Official Michigan Section PGA
Staff Writer, Mike Fay Golf
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