Can you chip or putt between holes?

Rory McIlroy and Matt Fitzpatrick
USA Today Images
Rory McIlroy and Matt Fitzpatrick putt and chip around on the green during a Masters practice round.
By Mark Aumann

Series: Golf Buzz

Published: Sunday, June 08, 2014 | 11:38 a.m.

After you've finished a hole during a normal round of golf, are you allowed to drop the ball on the green and putt it again for practice? While waiting on the tee for the fairway ahead to clear, can you hit short chips to pass the time? Yes, according to our rules expert, but there are limitations.

It has to do with Rule 7-2, according to Bryan Jones, co-vice chairman of the PGA Rules Committee. Here's the specific language from the rulebook:

"Between the play of two holes a player must not make a practice stroke, except that he may practice putting or chipping on or near:

a. the putting green of the hole last played,
b. any practice putting green, or
c. the teeing ground of the next hole to be played in the round, provided a practice stroke is not made from a hazard and does not unduly delay play (Rule 6-7)."

TEN-SECOND RULE: Scott Langley uses Rule 16-2 to determine wait time for birdie putt

So the rule involves two types of practice swings at three possible locations. And even then, Jones said the rule is open to interpretation in some ways.

"We know what a putt is but an interesting aspect is, what does a chip mean?" Jones said. "It is not defined, so does a full swing flop shot count? I think it means a very short shot based on the limitations of the rest of the rule."

Jones said if you or a member of your foursome wants another chance to check the break or speed of a green only after you've completed the hole, that's OK. Or if you're making the turn and there's a chance to hit a couple of balls on the practice green, you can do that while the rest of your group is getting snacks or taking a bathroom break.

WHEN THE BALL MOVES AT ADDRESS: Situations requiring you to apply Rule 18-2b

But like everything, there are a couple of exceptions to Rule 7-2. One involves tournament play.

"Note No. 2 at the end of this rule allows the committee to prohibit practice on or near the putting green of the hole last played," Jones said. "This allows the committee to address potential pace of play issues with excess practice, and the PGA of America and the PGA Tour both do so. The USGA does not utilize this note."

The other deals with the definition of "teeing ground," especially on courses where there are multiple tee areas.

BUGGED BY INSECTS: What to do when facing a dangerous situation on the course

"I do not recall the specifics but a player was penalized two strokes in a championship when she dropped and chipped a couple of balls from a 'tee pad' behind where the teeing ground was located," Jones said. "The definition of teeing ground is critical in understanding what 'on or near' actually relates to."

So remember, it's OK the next time somebody in your group takes another crack at the hole -- as long as they're not holding up the group behind and more importantly, they record their first attempt on the scorecard. In golf, like in life, you don't get a do-over.