Friday, December 1, 2017
Ask Linda #1655-Clean ball on green
I always play second-hand balls. Recently one of these balls had a small imperfection, possible a grain of sand, embedded in the outer cover.
I pried the grain out with my penknife and was informed that modifying the ball in play (the ball had been marked on the green) was illegal, and thus I was socked with a two-stroke penalty.
I protested. Who is correct?
Lou from Chiang Mai, Thailand
You are correct.
There does happen to be a Rule that penalizes the player for applying foreign material to the ball for the purpose of changing its playing characteristics [Rule 5-2]; that Rule carries a penalty of disqualification.
However, you did not apply anything to the ball. Prying out a grain of sand constitutes cleaning the ball. Rule 21 permits the player to clean a ball that has been marked and lifted on the putting green. You did not incur a penalty.
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