Rules Guy: Can you ask your partner not to mark his ball on the green?

marking ball on green

Can you ask your playing partner to leave his ball in place instead of marking it?

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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.

Is it true that when it’s your turn to putt you have “control” of the green and consequently can ask your opponent to not mark his ball but rather to leave it in place? —Adrian Elam, via email

Is it true that The Police’s “Every Breath You Take” is the No. 1 song in America? That “The Big Chill” tops the box office? That there is still a box office to top?

Golfer placing ball
Rules Guy: When playing lift, clean and place, are you allowed to give yourself a better angle to the hole?
By: Rules Guy

These things were true back in 1983, but the Rules were changed in 1984 to get rid of the player’s right to control an opponent’s ball, which had been in effect since 1960. (A ball nearer the hole could only be lifted upon request of the player whose turn it was to play.)

Too many players were taking the notion of “control” too far, asking their opponents to cluck like a chicken or do an impression of Ronald Reagan … Rules Guy kids, of course, but you get the idea: It was kind of a silly rule to begin with. Today, under Rule 15.3(a) it is your absolute right to mark and lift your ball on the green if you think it might help another player, no matter whose turn it is.

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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