Thursday, March 11, 2010

Ask Linda #183-Marking ball with toe of club

Good afternoon Linda,

In our weekly game, I witnessed a player using the tip of her putter and placing it behind the ball in order to lift or move the ball.

I was told the only way to mark the ball is to use a round marker or a coin and place it flat on the green behind the ball.

Is the use of the tip of the putter legal???

Again thank you so much.



Dear Lulu,

The Note under Rule 20-1 states that you should mark a ball that you are going to lift by placing a ball-marker or small coin right behind the ball. When the USGA writes “should,” it is a strong recommendation, but not an absolute requirement.

While the USGA would not recommend the following methods of marking a ball, they are all permissible [Decision 20-1/16] :

1. placing the toe of your putter at the side of or behind the ball

2. using a tee

3. using a loose impediment (such as a stone or a twig)

I often use the toe of my putter to mark a ball on the green when I want to make a simple adjustment, such as to align the markings on the ball with my line of putt, or perhaps to flick off a bug. However, if I am lifting a ball that will not be immediately replaced, I always use the recommended small, flat, round marker. I wouldn’t trust the putter-head method for more than a quick adjustment.

I have on rare occasions used a tee, but never during anything more serious than a casual round with a good friend.

I have never been tempted to mark the position of a ball with a loose impediment; I wouldn’t want to risk the complication of wind blowing my “marker” to a new position.

In short, the safest way to mark the position of your ball is to use a standard ball marker or small coin.


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