Friday, February 19, 2016

Ask Linda #1258–Ball marked on green moved by wind 2.19.16

Dear Linda,

In a recent tournament a fellow competitor marked his ball, lifted and replaced it on the putting green. He then moved away to view the line of putt at which point a gust of wind moved his ball further from the hole. He wasn't happy with the situation and wanted to move it back, as the ball-marker was still in place so he could accurately replace it.

I explained to him that under the rules, he was required to play the ball from it's new position and it was unfortunate this was further from the hole. After quite a heated argument, he asked me to show him in the rule book where it says he must play it from its new position.

I showed him the section in the definition of a “Ball in Play” which states: “A ball that has been marked but not lifted remains in play. A ball that has been marked, lifted and replaced is back in play whether or not the ball-marker has been removed.”

I then explained that as his ball was considered to be in play, if it had been moved by an outside agency (Rule 18-1) he must replace the ball back to it's original position, but as wind (and water) are not outside agencies, this does not apply.

Despite what I thought was a thorough and convincing explanation on my part, he still could not accept it and the rest of the fellow competitors were not convinced either.

Assuming I am correct in my interpretation of the rules, is there any way of making what seems to be a very simple situation easier to understand, rather than having to go through the convoluted process as I did without much success?


Gary Venning

Dear Lou,

What a great job of explaining you did! I couldn't have done it any better. You might want to print the following "Frequently Asked Question" from the USGA website ( and carry it in your bag. Here is the link for this FAQ:

Rules FAQ
Ball in Play Moved by Wind or Gravity

A player replaces his ball on the putting green and the ball is at rest. Without addressing the ball the player steps away to read his putt.

The ball moves either due to the wind or the slope of the putting green. How should the player proceed?

The player must play his ball from the new position without penalty.

If the ball was moved into the hole then the player is deemed to have holed out with his previous stroke (Decision 20-3d/1).

Note: It is not relevant whether the player had removed his ball-marker before the ball was moved by the wind or gravity as the player's ball was in play when it was replaced (Rule 20-4).