Rules Guy: What happens if I accidentally move my ball marker on the green?

If you move your mark on the green by accident, do you have to take a penalty?

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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.

I was playing on damp greens recently. My playing partner asked the location of my ball, which I had marked with a penny. To show the mark, I pressed down lightly on it with my putter. The wet coin stuck to the bottom of my putter. What next? Is that a penalty? 
—Blake Giles, via email

It is merely cause for a good chuckle, and an accidental movement that under Rule 13.1(d) can be corrected without penalty by replacing either the ball mark or the ball itself back to where the mark was before it was lifted. Next time, however, Rules Guy suggests show, don’t tamp.

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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