A few things regarding marking a ball have come to my attention recently. I thought a short review might be in order.
- Rule 16b: “A ball on the putting green may be lifted and, if desired, cleaned. The position of the ball must be marked before it is lifted and the ball must be replaced.”
- Your ball may be marked with any small object, and the object may be placed on any side of the ball. However, the ball must be replaced in the exact same proximity to the marker.
- If your ball is in the way of another person’s putt and that person asks you to mark your ball to one side or another, you must mark your ball first and then use your putter head to measure a short distance away. Choose a stationary object in the distance, point your putter head toward that object and then move your mark. To replace your ball, point your putter head toward the same object, move the mark back, and then replace your ball.
Now, what if your ball is not on the green but is in the way of someone else’s shot?
- Rule 22: “If a player considers that another ball might interfere with his play, he may have it lifted.”
- First of all, you must be asked to mark your ball; you can’t just do so voluntarily. “If a player lifts his ball without being asked to do so, he incurs a penalty of one stroke for a breach of Rule 18-2a.”
- Secondly, you are not allowed to clean your ball when lifting it. So you must carefully hold your ball with your finger tips (not in the palm of your hand) and replace it exactly as it was.
- In stroke play, if you are asked to mark your ball, you may elect to play first rather than lift your ball.
Q: Can someone who is off the green ask you (whose ball is on the green) to leave your ball where it is rather than marking it? Let’s say your ball may provide a backstop for that player’s ball.
A: You are in charge of your own ball. You are not required to leave your ball just because someone asked you to do so. AND if it is felt that there is an agreement between two players to assist one another, there could be grounds for disqualification.
Rule 18-2a (as referenced earlier) actually applies to both of the examples above. It states that “when a player’s ball is in play, if the player….lifts or moves the ball…the player incurs a penalty of one stroke.” So, if, on the green, you fail to mark your ball before moving it to one side or the other, you have incured a penalty stroke. And off the green, you cannot mark your ball without being asked to do so.