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Are putters allowed to exceed 48 inches in length? Rules Guy

What are the rules about putter length?

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The Rules of Golf are tricky! Thank you, we have a guru. Our Rules Guy knows the book front to back. Have a question? You have all the answers.

My friend and I argued about the rule covering club length. The rule states: “The overall length of the club must be at least 18 inches and, with the exception of putters, must not exceed 48 inches.” My friend says the 48 inch limit applies to putters, and I say no. In context, I was arguing against the absurd situation involving carrying a second putter 20 feet long to be used only for single club length drops. —Joseph Wooden, Bakersfield, Calif.

You are both right, although your friend is probably right.

The 48 inch limit doesn’t apply to putters…but the definition of club length is the longest club in your bag without your putter.

Aim that 20-foot putter around if you want, but land without the proper club length and the penalty is two strokes in stroke play and losing the hole in match play.

golfer holding the ball in the putter

Rules Guy: My friend’s ball got stuck in his putter after a stroke. What now?


Rules Guy

For putter-related guidance from our guru, read on…

If I just need to adjust the alignment of my ball on the green, I’ll sometimes mark its location using my putter’s clubhead, which is kept in a fixed position. I do so mainly to speed up the gameplay. However, in the last game, my partner was confused, fearing that I would be called for a penalty. Is there any reason to worry? —David Shull, via email

While the Rules Guy always applauds any effort to improve the speed of play, you may be taking the view that “every second counts” a little too far—how long does it take to fetch a marker from your pocket?

Regardless, you can tell your anxious partner to chill, as the kids say. (Do they still say that?)

Rule 14.1 allows you to mark the ball in two ways: You can place a ball marker behind, or next to, the ball; or you can do the same by holding the stick down. While most of us choose the first, you do. (Do kids still say that, too?)

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Have a question about the Rules? Ask the Rules Guy! Send your questions, confusion and comments to We promise he won’t throw a letter at you.

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