Sergio Garcia did not tap down spike marks on his putting line on Thursday at the HSBC Championship in Abu Dhabi. But what if he had? And what's the big deal with tapping down spike marks, anyway? To answer the first question: It's a violation of Rule 16-1a and comes with a two-shot penalty in stroke play (loss of hole in match play).
The tournament committee could have also disqualified Garcia if they felt he had gained a significant advantage by tapping down the spike marks. That would be considered a serious breach of the rules. The European Tour's Simon Dyson was disqualified at the BMW Masters in October after tapping down spike marks.
And here's what you can't do:
- Repair any damage other than hole plugs or ball marks. This includes any indentations created by the 275-pound guy playing in the group in front of you.
- Touch your line of putt for any other reason than the ones listed above.
- Test the surface by rolling a ball, scraping or roughening the grass.
- Sweep away casual water, dew or frost.