Pre-shot putting routines can see the pros messing about with ball-markers. What if they forget to remove it before putting? Our Rules of Golf expert explains

Problems with the Rules of Golf often bring more questions than answers. Last week’s column on what to do if you accidentally moved your ball on the green quickly set off on another tangent in my inbox.

So kudos to those of you who got in touch to ask the following: “Is it OK to putt your ball without moving your ball-marker?”

If I had to guess, the motivation for a number of these exhortations come from the rather elaborate pre-shot putting routines we now see on tour every week.

Depending on whom you’re watching, a ball-marker seems to spend an inordinate time in place as players go through the rigmarole of getting ready to putt.

What if they forgot to remove it?

Rules of Golf explained: Our expert says

It’s a simple enough question and, thankfully, it’s got a simple answer too. Rule 14.1a – Spot of Ball to be Lifted and Replaced Must be Marked – goes through the procedure of what to do when lifting a ball under a Rule which requires the ball to be replaced on its original spot.

It says if the spot is marked with a ball-marker then, once the ball has been replaced, a player has to remove the marker before making a stroke.

If they fail to do this, it’s a one shot penalty.

Have a question for our Rules of Golf expert?

Despite the simplification of the Rules of Golf at the beginning of 2019, there are still some that leave us scratching our heads. And as I’ve passed the R&A’s level 2 rules exam with distinction, I am more than happy to help.

Click here for the full Rules of Golf explained archive and details of how to submit a question to our expert.

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