What is the Proper Way to Mark the Position of Your Ball?

I am often asked a couple of things regarding marking the position of a ball:

  • What is the proper way to do it?
  • Do I need to use a coin?
  • What is the proper procedure when asked to move your ball marker out of the way and then return it to its original position?

Before I answer those questions, let me say that you will need to mark the position of your ball whenever you are required to replace it. That being said, let’s find out how to do it properly.

First, the Note to Rule 20-1 gives us guidance on the best practice of how to mark the position of the ball. It states, “The position of the ball to be lifted should be marked by placing a ball-marker, a small coin or other similar object immediately behind the ball.” Please note that this is a best practice and actually you may place the mark to the side of the ball or even in front of the ball if you wish. Just remember, replace the ball in the proper position relative to the mark you placed to the side or in front of the ball.

Secondly, the best practice recommends a small coin or similar object be used to mark the position of the ball. However, you can use what you wish, provided the position of the ball is marked. It may include a coin, a poker chip, a lucky charm, a tee or even a twig or a flower (not recommended since the wind may blow it away). You could even use the toe of your club or the toe of your foot (once again, not recommended). As long as you physically mark the position of the ball before lifting it, you are within the Rules.

Lastly, at times you may be asked to move your mark out of the way. People often ask me which should I move over; the mark or the ball? Decision 20-1/16 gives us guidance in that when asked to move your mark, you may measure from the edge of the ball or ball-marker. However, “in order to accurately replace the ball on the spot from which it was lifted, the steps used to move the ball or ball-marker to the side should be reversed.”

Remember, use the index or the table of contents to find the correct Rule that applies to the situation and follow the Rules of Golf to help yourself to enjoy the game of golf.

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