Has a ball marker got in the way of your putt? Here’s what our Rules of Golf expert says must happen

We’ve been concentrating on Rules of Golf around the green in recent weeks and that’s obviously got plenty of you thinking.

Richard Stratford is one of several who has got in touch with a variation on this theme…

“I saw this the other day and nobody knew the ruling. One of our fourball putted and the putt drifted off line, hit a marker near the hole, changed direction and went in!

“Without hitting the marker, it would not have gone in the hole. It didn’t seem right but as it wasn’t a ‘serious’ game it was allowed but there must be a ruling that would penalise it in some manner?”

Rules of Golf explained: Our expert says…

Well, there is a rule that covers it but it’s not a penalty. In fact, in this situation, the ball is holed.

There is an exception to Rule 11.1b that says when a ball in motion hits a ball marker on the putting green, the stroke counts and the ball must be played as it lies. In this case, it’s in the hole so write the score down and move on.

Of course before the stroke, a player whose ball marker might help or interfere with play can move it out of the way if it is their own, using Rule 15.3c, or, if the marker belongs to another player, require that player to move it.

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!

I’ve also 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 me.

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