It is important to know when and how to mark your ball on the putting green. Marking a ball is necessary to allow players further away to putt. Otherwise, you run the risk of having your ball hit by another ball and incurring penalties. However, just like anything else in golf, there are rules and etiquette regarding ball marking.
Lifting a ball from the putting green without first marking its position incurs a penalty of one point. You should mark your ball with a ball marker or small coin directly behind where the ball lies on the green. While the rules do not specify marking behind the ball, it is common knowledge and courtesy to do so. Marking in front of the ball may actually alter the green and is strongly discouraged. However, players should note that marking more than one inch behind the ball incurs a penalty of one stroke.
Once your ball is marked, it can still interfere with another player’s shot. If the ball marker interferes with the play, stance or stroke of another player, it should be moved at least one full club length to one side. There is no restriction as to how a ball is marked to the side as long as the ball is accurately replaced at the same spot by reversing the exact steps used to move it to the side. If a player does not ask you to move your marker and his putt hits the marker, the deflected golf ball must then be played from wherever it is on the putting surface.
There is no limit to the number of times players may mark and lift their ball from the putting green, provided they do not delay play unnecessarily. There is also no penalty if natural forces such as wind, rain or even an animal move a marker. But if a player assumes a hole has been won and picks up his marker before play is decided, he will incur a one-stroke penalty.
If, when you are placing your marker, you accidentally move your ball, there is no penalty provided the movement of the ball, or the ball-marker is directly attributable to the specific act of marking the ball’s position or lifting the ball. However, if you accidentally kick your ball when trying to lift it or move your marker with the ball or other equipment like a hat or glove, you will be penalized.
Failure to use a marker or relying on a blemish in the green will also result in a one-stroke penalty. And finally, if a ball is replaced at a spot on the putting green other than where it was lifted from and subsequently played from this wrong place, the player incurs a penalty of two strokes in stroke play or loss of hole in match play.
Now that you know when and how to use a ball marker, you’ll need to have one with you at all times. LinksWalker offers a variety of ball markers in over 150 college licenses, so you can show off your team spirit while marking your ball.