You know what happens if you lift the ball on the green without marking. But what if you just want to move it round to line it up? Here's what the rules say

I like your curious minds. After last week’s column about what happens when you lift a ball on the green without marking it, Jason Prudhomme was quickly off the mark with this email…

“I just read your answer about having to mark the ball on the green before lifting (Rule 14.1a). My question is: Are you allowed to rotate/spin the ball without actually lifting it off the green in order to use the alignment mark on the ball?

“Or is simply touching/moving/rotating the ball considered a ‘lift’?”

Great question, Jason, because this is something that causes my face to morph into the scream mask in those horror films when I see it at the golf course.

Rules of Golf explained: Our expert says…

I’m going to assume you’ve not marked the ball first. If that’s the case then…

Don’t do this. Please don’t. The new Rules of Golf, implemented in 2019, give you a lot of freedom on the putting surface but there are limits.

If this is something you recognise, here’s your chance to sort it out, and bring in a new routine, before you get into some trouble.

This is why. Rule 9.4b covers the Penalty for Lifting or Deliberately Touching Ball or Causing It to Move.

There’s an interpretation to this rule which is very – very – specific about the situation Jason describes.

It says that when the ball in play is deliberately touched by the player, even if it doesn’t move, then a penalty stroke is coming under Rule 9.4b.

Here’s the slam dunk…

“For example, a player gets one penalty stroke if he or she: without first marking the ball’s spot, rotates the ball on the putting green to line up the trademark with the hole, even if the ball remains on the same spot”.

If only you’d just marked it first.

“If the player had marked the ball before touching or rotating it, there would have been no 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!

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