Rules Guy: Is there a limit to how far you can move your ball mark?

What do the rules say about how far you can move your ball mark?

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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.

A player was putting from the fairway onto the green and asked another player to move his ball marker one club length, as the marker was in his line. Is that permissible from off the green, and is there a limit as to the distance one must move a marker? — Paul Ivonye, Houston, Texas

It is indeed permissible, Paul. If a ball marker potentially interferes with a stroke from anywhere on the course, the player can ask for it to be moved.

Per Rule 15.3, there’s no specific limit or method for moving a ball marker — the only issues are that it be measured from its original spot and that the lifted ball is eventually replaced there. That answer is spot-on, trust us.

For more ball-marking guidance from our guru, read on …

marking ball on green
Rules Guy: Can you refuse a playing partner’s request to leave your ball mark near their putting line?
By: Rules Guy

For reasons not worth getting into, I use my putter instead of my hand to align the ball. Is this legal so long as my marker remains correctly behind the golf ball? — Jim Palmer, Oak Ridge, Tenn.

One of the things Rules Guy loves about the Rules of Golf are their ability to surprise him, and while baseball’s Jim Palmer was known for his heater, we’re about to throw you a curve.

Prior to research — yes, Notorious TRG must sometimes look things up — we would have said this is legal, because, on the putting green, who could care how one handles their ball? And before 2019 we would have been correct, but things have changed.

You’re thinking about what you’re doing as aligning the ball, but the Rules of Golf now see it as replacing the ball, and a ball must be replaced by hand.

Were you to play the ball rotated by your putter and not by hand, even from the correct spot, you’d get a penalty stroke for replacing in the wrong way under Rule 14.2b(2). Strike one!

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

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