Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ask Linda 266-Ball marker sticks to putter

Linda, I have often seen people use their putter to tap down their marker after marking a ball on the green. I've also seen cases where the marker stuck to the sole of the putter and was accidentally lifted from its original spot. In view of the recent ruling in the Dubai championship, I am now wondering if the person who accidentally moved his marker while tapping it down should have been penalized.
Thank you,
Lou Lou

Dear Lou Lou,
When a ball or ball marker is accidentally moved in the process of marking and lifting a ball, there is no penalty as long as the movement is directly attributable to that specific act. The key to this rule is the meaning of the words “directly attributable.”

When a player marks and lifts a ball and then taps down the marker with the sole of his putter, that tapping down is considered to be part of the process of marking the ball. Therefore, there is no penalty if the marker is moved by the putter [Decision 20-1/6]. The player must replace the marker. If he cannot determine the exact spot, he must use his best judgment to place the marker at the closest spot to where it originally lay, taking care to place it no closer to the hole.

Any accidental movement of the ball or ball marker, which may occur, for example, if a player drops a ball on his marker (your Dubai reference), is not considered to be “directly attributable” and results in a penalty [Decision 20-1/15]. I suspect Ian Poulter was more chagrined at his carelessness than surprised by his penalty.

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