Rules Guy: Do you *have* to mark your ball on the green when asked, even if it’s not in the way?

Are you obligated to mark your ball on the green when asked?

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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 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.

Hand marking ball on green
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By: Rules Guy

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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