The Rules of Golf state that the position of a ball must be marked before it is lifted under a Rule that requires it to be replaced (Rule 20 – 1 Lifting and Marking). The Note to Rule 20 – 1 states that “the position of a ball to be lifted should be marked by placing a ball-marker, a small coin or other similar object immediately behind the ball.” A question that I get on occasion is what happens if a player uses an object or something that is not similar to a ball-marker or small coin to mark his ball? Is the player then penalized?
The answer lies in the Decisions of Golf under Decision 20 – 1/16. The player is not penalized if he uses an object not similar to a ball-marker or small coin. The provision in the Note to Rule 20 – 1 is a recommendation of best practice, but there is no penalty for failing to act in accordance with the Note. The Decision goes on to state, “examples of methods of marking the position of a ball that are not recommended, but are permissible, are as follows:
· Placing the toe of a club at the side of, or behind, the ball;
· Using a tee;
· Using a loose impediment;
· Scratching a line, provided the putting green is not tested (Rule 16 – 1d) and a line for putting is not indicated (Rule 8 – 2b). As this practice may cause damage to the putting green, it is discouraged.
However, under Rule 20 – 1 it is necessary to physically mark the position of the ball. Reference to an existing mark on the ground does not constitute marking the position of a ball. For example, it is not permissible to mark the position with reference to a blemish on the putting green.
When moving a ball or ball-marker to the side to prevent it from interfering with another player’s stance or stroke, the player may measure from the side of the ball or ball marker. In order to accurately replace the ball on the spot from which it was lifted, the steps used to move the ball or ball-marker to the side should be reversed.”
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Frank Guastella, PGA Rules Official Michigan Section PGA
Staff Writer, Mike Fay Golf
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If you are using a tee, or a pitch mark repairer to mark your ball by pushing the forks of the pitch mark repairer into the green surface I assume that this is ok? Is this not considered ‘testing the surface’?