Waving Up Groups On A Short Hole
San Francisco – The seventh hole at The Olympic Club is a drivable par 4 that is playing 256 yards today. While it may seem like an easy hole based on the yardage, the area around the green is full of difficulties. Because of this, players on the tee frequently have to wait for the group at the green to complete play. This has caused a backup at times during the round. When backups like this occur, the officials will frequently have a group on the green step aside to allow the group behind to hit their tee shots. Once all three players have gotten their balls on the green, they will mark and lift their balls before moving aside. The group behind can then tee off and while they are walking to the green, the first group putts out.
If a player who has a putt finds that one of the balls from the group behind is interfering with him, he can mark its position and lift it. Because players in stroke play are considered to be outside agencies relative to each other, Rule 18-1 imposes no penalty for lifting the ball. After putting Rule 20-3 says that either the player who lifted it or the player whose ball it is may replace it
Using this practice, the backup can frequently be eliminated or the wait minimized for the players behind.
Written by John Van der Borght, Manager of Rules Communications for the USGA.