What's The Ruling When Your Ball Is Overhanging The Hole?

What's The Ruling When Your Ball Is Overhanging The Hole

Ball Overhanging Rule
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A lot of weird and wonderful things can happen on a golf course, but what if your ball is overhanging the very edge of the hole and could still drop in? Find out here.

What's The Ruling When Your Ball Is Overhanging The Hole

Putting is one of the most important aspects of golf. It can be the difference between winning a competition and losing it.

Many things can happen on the course, but one rare sighting is when your ball comes to rest overhanging the hole, either from a chip or a putt.

There have been instances of this happening though. At the 1990 English Open, Sam Torrance's ball came to rest next to the hole for 26 seconds before dropping in.

At the 2021 WGC-Match Play, Tony Finau's putt took over 10 seconds before it dropped into the hole for a birdie.

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But, what is the ruling for when this happens? Is there a set amount of time you can dither before the ball has to drop or you tap it in?

Well, according to rule 13.3a: If any part of a player’s ball overhangs the lip of the hole, the player is allowed a reasonable time to reach the hole and ten more seconds to wait to see whether the ball will fall into the hole. If the ball falls into the hole in this waiting time, the player has holed out with the previous stroke.

However, if the ball does not fall into the hole in this waiting time, the ball is treated as being at rest. If the ball then falls into the hole before it is played, the player has holed out with the previous stroke, but gets one penalty stroke added to the score for the hole.

Related: 16 Important Golf Scorecard Rules To Remember

Expanding on that, rule 13.3b states: If a ball is overhanging the hole and is lifted or moved before the waiting time has ended, the ball is treated as having come to rest, the ball then must be replaced on the lip of the hole and the waiting time no longer applies to the ball.

Ball Overhanging Rule

In match play, the player’s ball is treated as holed with the previous stroke, and there is no penalty to the opponent. (Photo credit: GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)

Interestingly, if your opponent in match play or another player in stroke play, deliberately lifts or moves the player’s ball overhanging the hole before the waiting time has ended, then in match play, the player’s ball is treated as holed with the previous stroke, and there is no penalty to the opponent.

Whilst in stroke play, the player who lifted or moved the ball gets the general penalty (two penalty strokes). Then the ball must be replaced on the lip of the hole.

Related: What Is The General Penalty? Golf Rules Explained

Matt studied Sports Journalism at Southampton Solent University, graduating in 2019. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly and the PGA, he covers all aspects of the game, from Tour news to equipment testing and buyers’ guides. Taking up the game at the age of six, Matt currently holds a handicap of 3 and despite not having a hole in one…yet, he has had two albatrosses. His favourite player is Rory McIlroy, despite nearly being struck by his second shot at the 17th during the 2015 BMW PGA Championship.