You know you’re supposed to mark your ball on the green before lifting it. What are the penalties if you don’t and does it mean your day is over? Our Rules expert is on hand as always
Be honest, how many of you have had this mix-up? Remi Russell’s email read: “I picked up my ball on the 1st green in a stroke play competition thinking it was Stableford and I was out of shots.
“My playing partner pointed it out immediately and said I was disqualified. Could I have replaced with a penalty? I did not mark my ball.”
Was it an early bath for Remi? How do you deal with it if disqualification is not the sanction? This marking a golf ball answer is found using a couple of different rules, so let’s dive straight in and solve this one!
Rules of Golf explained: Marking a golf ball and lifting it
Let’s deal with picking the ball up first. I’ve confused a medal and a Stableford before and it’s a real slap the forehead moment when you pick up a ball off the green when you need to hole out.
But if we’re all calm about it, it doesn’t need to be a disaster. Rule 13.1b says a ball on the green may be lifted and cleaned but it must be marked before it is lifted (Rule 14.1) and the ball must be replaced on its original spot (Rule 14.2).
If you lift the ball without marking the spot, you get one penalty stroke. If you put it back, that’s all there is to it.
Some of you may be worried that you don’t know the exact spot. After all, you didn’t mark the position of the ball. The rules recognise this quandary. Rule 14.2c, which covers the spot where a ball is replaced, says if that spot is not known then it “must be estimated”.
Do these things, putt out, and you won’t see DQ next to your name on the leaderboard. Where that becomes an issue is if you just pick up, move on to the next tee, and carry on with the game.
Rule 3.3c says a player “must hole out at each hole in a round”. If you don’t, you have to correct that error “before making a stroke to begin another hole or, for the final hole of the round, before returning the scorecard”.
Fail to do this and then, yes, you are disqualified.
For anyone still confused about why this isn’t the case in Stableford, it’s because the specific rules for that format – 21.1c for anyone who wants to look it up – circumvent the penalty for failing to hole out. You simply get zero points for the hole where the ‘breach’ took place.
Got a question for our Rules of Golf expert?
Despite the simplifying of the Rules of Golf at the beginning of 2019, there are still some that leave us scratching our heads. I’ll try to help by featuring the best of your queries in this column.
Have you fallen foul of these rules for marking a golf ball? Let me know what happened and how you deal with it by leaving a comment on X.
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