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Are players required to mark their green balls when asked?

What are the rules about refusing to mark a green ball?

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The Rules of Golf are tricky! Thank you, we have a guru. Our Rules Guy knows the book from front to back. Have a question? You have all the answers.

Is it necessary to mark your ball on the green, whether it is in another player’s path or not? Yesterday, I was playing with our golf champion, and he got very angry with another player because he did not mark his ball, even though it was not in the professional line. The expert said that all green balls should be marked … but my online research so far doesn’t seem to support that. —Liz Grebler, via email

This pro doesn’t sound like a lot of people — don’t worry he’s wrong, or at least partially wrong.

Under Rule 15.3, a ball resting on the putting green only must be marked and raised if it interferes with play or assists another player; otherwise, there is no need to do so.

That said, the player can always request that you really mark your ball (again, if it can be considered interference or help in putting on the green) when you have to accept that request (making the request is actually a requirement. , but it sounds decent otherwise).

So, yes, the pro can make everyone mark their ball, but that’s not the same thing as announcing, “All green balls must be marked!” They may be better suited for work that deals with smaller clients.

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Rules Guy: Is it a penalty to correct the position of your ball after lifting your mark?


Rules Guy

For more ball marking guidance from our guru, read on…

One of my competitors marked his ball and picked it up. He then replaced the ball and placed it without picking up his marker. I told him that his ball was out of play because he left his marker in the area, and thus hit the wrong ball – he needed to replace his ball, with a two-stroke penalty. He said I was full of balloons. Is the ball in play if you don’t raise your marker? —Robert Tarbox, via email

Really, Robert, the Laws Guy can’t stomach baloney, and alas you are both full of it.

The placement or removal of a ball marker has nothing to do with whether or not the ball is in play. Bupkis.

In fact, the act of lifting or changing the ball can change its shape. That said, Law 14.1 prohibits playing the ball without first removing the ball marker, a violation that earns the opponent one penalty (not two), even if it wasn’t a foul ball.

He needs to change his ways, and he needs to eat less crow.

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Have a question about the Rules? Ask the Rules Guy! Send your questions, confusion and comments to We promise he won’t throw a letter at you.

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