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What is the Collin Morikawa ruling at the Masters?

Social media exploded when a short clip of the American was posted. But, as our Rules of Golf expert explains, it's important to know everything
 

Context is everything and there wasn’t much of it in a 20-second video clip which saw Collin Morikawa adjusting his ball on the 6th green at Augusta National.

Social media, as usual, was quick to get itself into a fluster and all kinds of theories were soon flying about. But what happened on the green?

A longer video showed that as Morikawa addressed the ball he saw it move back. He alerted his playing partners and Rule 13.1d came into play.

There are two parts that can apply here. The first says there is no penalty if a player, an opponent in match play, or another player in stroke play, accidentally moves a ball or ball-marker on the putting green.

The ball is replaced on its original spot – that is estimated if not known – or a ball-marker is placed to mark that spot.

The second part of Rule 13.1d covers when a ball is moved by natural forces (think wind, water, gravity). If the ball had already been lifted and replaced, then it is simply returned to the spot it moved from. Again, if that’s not known it is estimated.

Only if it had not already been lifted and replaced must it then be played from its new spot.

In either case, failing to replace the ball and then making a stroke would result in the general penalty (two shots or loss of hole in match play) for playing from a wrong place.

“Yeah, the ball moved, and then I moved it back,” Morikawa confirmed after the round. “Pretty standard now. Pretty routine in our rules book thankfully.”

He added: “Look, if I showed up to this course and it was firm and fast, I probably would never put my putter down because you never know when that’s going to just trickle on. Now it’s was on a little mound and moved and nothing wrong with that.”

And Morikawa even managed to see the funny side when told of the online furore, suggesting it might help his PIP rating. “Bring that PIP up. Blow me up, guys,” he quipped.

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Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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