Rules Guy: When playing lift, clean and place, can you move the ball with your club?

Do you have to use your hand to place your ball?

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The Rules of Golf are tricky! Thankfully, we’ve got the guru. Our Rules Guy knows the book front to back. Got a question? He’s got all the answers.

We were playing with the “lift, clean and place” local rule in effect. A player in my foursome was in the fairway and started to roll the ball with his clubhead before realizing that it’s lift, not roll. He proceeded to mark his ball and go through the procedure correctly. But had the player committed a violation by first touching the ball with his club? —Dudley Campbell, Scottsdale, Ariz.

There may be no erasers on golf pencils, but there’s a very handy one in the Rules of Golf. Dudley, say hello to Rule 14.5, aka the “Eraser” rule. (No, Rules Guy didn’t make up that nickname; it’s a real thing.)

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This rule allows for correcting without penalty a mistake in dropping, placing, replacing or substituting a ball, as long as it’s done prior to the player making the next stroke. So, while it is in fact required to use your hand when placing a ball, in this instance, since the mistake was corrected, it falls under “no harm, no foul.”

Had it not been corrected, the sanction would have been one penalty stroke for replacing in a wrong way.

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Got a question about the Rules? Ask the Rules Guy! Send your queries, confusions and comments to We promise he won’t throw the book at you.

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