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Rules Guy: Can I mark the ball of a player who hit into me and is in the way?

October 30, 2018

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. 

With so many guys on Tour who can now drive the green on short par 4s, what is the ruling if a player does so while the group ahead is on the green putting? Do the players putting have to wait for King Kong to get to the green to mark his own ball, or can they do it for him to maintain the pace of play?

An illustration from 1934 features a group dealing with a "stymie" situation.
An illustration from 1934 features a group dealing with a “stymie” situation.

Maintaining pace of play doesn’t seem too high on many Tour pros’ list of priorities lately, but we digress.

The two separate groups are outside agencies with respect to one another, and as such, there is not penalty for marking and lifting the ball. Whoever did so may replace the ball when appropriate, or it can be left for the player whose drive it was to do so.

If this long hitter failed to yell “Fore!” the ball also may be thrown into the woods without penalty or guilt. Rules Guy is just kidding … but, absent an apology from Mr. Kong, a stern glare, finger-wag or harrumphing is certainly in order.

Got a rules question? Of course you do! Whatever it may be, send yours torulesguy@golf.com and the question may be answered in an upcoming issue of GOLF. Until then, play by the Rules!