Explaining the Automatic 2-Putt Rule

Sometimes a golf course or golf tournament will let players know that something called an "automatic 2-putt rule" is in place. It can also be called an "auto 2-putt." If you encounter the auto 2-putt, what does that mean for you on the greens? It essentially means that you will actually be stroking only one putt per green, and adding a maximum of two putts to your score for the hole.

Automatic two-putts are most likely to be found in a scramble tournament. Consider a four-person scramble tournament. Each golfer on the team hits a drive, the best drive is selected, then all play their second strokes from that spot. The best of the second shots is selected, and all play their third strokes from that spot. And so on.

Once the team is on the green, all four golfers will attempt a putt from the same spot. If one of them makes that putt attempt, the others pick up — the team has holed out.

But what if nobody on the team sinks one from that first putting location? If tournament organizers have put the automatic 2-putt rule in place, the golfers still pick up. When the automatic 2-putt rule is in effect, someone on the team either makes the first putt, or the teams picks up and counts two putts for the hole.

Say your team is on the green in three. If one of your golfers sinks the first putt, your score is 4. All four team members miss, your score if 5 — it's an auto 2-putt. If your team is on the green in 1 and the auto 2-putt rule is in effect, you can make a two by sinking the first putt — but 3 is your max score on that hole.

What's the point of an automatic two-putt? Speeding up play. Tournament organizers who use the rule are trying to keep golfers moving and prevent any bottlenecks from forming somewhere on the golf course. Imagine being stuck behind a scramble team whose players are now attempting their third putts!

One piece of advice for automatic 2-putt rounds: Don't you dare leave that putt short. It's the only attempt you are going to make, so get it to the hole.

Another scenario where the auto 2-putt might be in place is when a golf course is trying to limit foot traffic on one of its greens, or on all of its greens. Perhaps there is a maintenance issue, or weather-related issue with the grass, or maybe a course just aerated. A course might recommend — or require — automatic two-putts. You have one attempt at making a putt, then pick up and get off the green.

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