Is a ball-marker or a tee always required if you’re picking up your ball to take relief? Our Rules of Golf expert explains

A real-life example for you this week – one I actually had to rule on in a recent competition.

A player found his ball next to a staked tree, which is classed in my club’s local rules as an abnormal course condition and, specifically, an immovable obstruction.

The player indicated he would take relief under Rule 16 and picked up his ball before establishing the nearest point of complete relief and dropping it in a relief area.

His partner believed he should have marked the position of his ball first and I was asked to adjudicate.

What do you think? Should he have popped in a tee peg – or your marker of choice – before lifting it, or was he perfectly entitled to just pick it up and take relief accordingly? Let’s get stuck in…

Rules of Golf explained: Our expert says…

Prepare to be amazed. Rule 14.1a says that ‘when a ball is lifted to take relief under a Rule, the player is not required to mark the spot before lifting the ball’.

Don’t go all cavalier, though, and start lifting your ball willy-nilly in all circumstances. Remember if you’re lifting under a rule that requires your ball to be replaced on its original spot then you’ve got to mark that spot before picking it up otherwise you’re going to get a one-stroke 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.

If you’ve sent me an email and are yet to hear back from me, I will try to answer your query. I have been inundated with requests in recent weeks and am working hard to try and get through them but it might take a little time!

In recent weeks, I’ve received a number of emails from players hoping I can intervene in a club rules dispute. For fairly obvious reasons, I can’t do that and would direct those players either to their county or to the rules department at the R&A for a definitive judgement.

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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