Rules Guy: Can a caddie replace a ball after it’s been marked by the player?

Paul Casey tosses his ball to his caddie at the 2022 Players Championship.

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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.

Can a pro golfer have his caddie place the ball on the green for him? —Dale Tateyama, Blaine, Wash.

Only if he gives the caddie half his winnings for the week. We kid!

Under Rule 14.2b, only the player, the player’s partner (if there is one) or the person who originally lifted the ball or caused it to move is allowed to replace it, so, unless that final situation is the case, the player would get one penalty stroke if his looper did the honors.

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

golfer picking up ball
Rules Guy: Can you mark your ball anywhere, as long as your playing partner requests it?
By: Rules Guy

Is it required to mark your ball when it’s on the green, whether it’s in the way of another player or not? Yesterday, I was playing with our golf pro, and he got so angry with another player because he didn’t mark his ball, even though it wasn’t in the pro’s line. The pro said that all the balls on the green must be marked … but my online research so far doesn’t seem to support that. 
—Liz Grebler, via email

This pro doesn’t sound like much of a people person — never mind that he is in the wrong, or at least partly in the wrong.

Under Rule 15.3, a ball at rest on the putting green only must be marked and lifted if it is interfering with play or helping another player; otherwise, there is no requirement to do so.

That said, a player can always request that you indeed mark your ball (again, if it can reasonably be deemed to be interfering or helping on the putting green) in which case you must accede to that request (making the request in essence a demand, but it sounds more polite the other way).

So, yes, the pro can make everyone mark his or her ball, but that’s not the same thing as declaring, “All balls on the green must be marked!” He might be better suited to a less customer-facing profession.

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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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