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What is the Order of Play Around the Putting Green?

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Gary Wills of Hellidon Lakes Golf Club putting on the 9th green during The Lombard Trophy - Regional Qualifier

What is the order of play around the putting green? He who is farthest from the cup plays first, even if that means putting before someone else chips.

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  • Here's a rule frequently misunderstood by recreational golfers.

    Everyone knows that the player who is "away" or "out" plays first. But when it comes to putting greens, many recreational players get the rule wrong. They believe that someone whose ball is off the green always plays before others whose balls are on the green. And that's incorrect.

    It doesn't matter whether you're on the green or off - if you're farthest from the cup, then you play first. That means you might have to putt before your partner plays from a bunker - if your putt is longer than your partner's bunker shot.

    If your partner is short of the green, 30 feet from the cup, but you're on the green, 40 feet from the cup, you play first.

    The player who is farthest from the cup plays first (see Rule 10), regardless of where that player is.

    But note that in stroke play, there is no penalty for playing out of order (it's simply an issue of etiquette). If your group prefers the guy in the bunker play first, even though he's not out, that's fine. But the by-the-book procedure is for the player who is out to play first, even if that means putting before someone who is off the green plays their shot.

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