‘Is this league-legal?’ Pro gets ball-marker clearance, grabs share of lead

Kevin Streelman unveiled a unique ball mark at the Valspar Championship — and it's paying dividends.

Kevin Streelman unveiled a unique ball mark at the Valspar Championship — and it's paying dividends.

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Tour veteran Kevin Streelman has had his fair share of success as a pro. He’s teed it up in 443 events, won twice, and finished in the top 10 an impressive 52 times. But it’s been a decade since his most recent win, the 2014 Travelers Championship, and the last few months have been a struggle too.

Last year was highlighted by a T2 finish at the 3M Open in July, but after finishing T56 at the Fortinet Championship in September, Streelman had a string of seven tournaments in which he missed the cut or, as was the case at the Farmers Insurance Open, withdrew after one round.

But things seem to have turned around considerably for Streelman at this week’s Valspar Championship. After firing rounds of 64-72, he’s not only going to make the cut, he’s hanging around at the top of the leaderboard. The 64 in particular was powered by a red-hot putter, and, Streelman says, some extra confidence on the green, thanks to a unique ball marker he recently put into play.

“It’s kind of cool little new ball marker I’m using that is legal that can kind of give you some visual cues that I think is pretty helpful,” he said on Thursday. “I used it in the pro-am and Tuesday. Kind of sticks into the ground, so it doesn’t move, obviously, from its location, but can you spin the top where the line is and then you kind of get back and you see where it looks good and then you can kind of put your line in [line] with that line and so you know it’s kind of what you were seeing from behind. So very simple.”

In case you’re wondering if the device is legal, Streelman said he made sure to check before putting the marker in play.

“I went to the rules guys and said, is this league-legal?” Streelman said. “And they called USGA and said yeah, so I was like, all right. I putted well with it.”

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Streelman said he got the marker from someone at Whisper Rock, his home club in Scottsdale, but he can’t recall who gave it to him. The only modification he had to make was to the spike, which he was told couldn’t exceed an inch in length. Streelman said the Wilson staff on site helped him grind the spike down to an appropriate length. And then of course, in adherence to the Rules of Golf, Streelman has to make sure he isn’t changing the position of his ball during his alignment process.

“I gotta be careful of spinning and then putting it in at a different angle,” Streelman said Friday. “As long as the bottom of the ball is in the same spot, you’re fine, but, you gotta get it to the same spot you mark it from, that’s for sure.”

As far as the actual process of using the marker, Streelman said it’s simple.

“You try and get the line down close to where you want to roll it, and then if you use the line, you try and match ’em up, and then it kind of gives you the confidence to say, well, this is pretty close to where I want to roll this ball,” he said. “It takes maybe a step of thought out of it.”

While Streelman’s marker appears to be a custom creation, fans of alignment ball markers will be happy to know that there are plenty of similar versions on the market. Check out the selection from Fairway Jockey below, and here’s hoping you share some of Streelman’s success on the greens.

Golf.com Editor

As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on GOLF.com.