Rules Guy: Can I sub in a new ball after a mid-hole weather delay?

What do the Rules say about ball substitutions during a weather delay?

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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.

My buddy and I were recently sitting out a lightning storm in the cart barn when he came up with a good question related to the One Ball rule. When play is suspended due to inclement weather (or any other reason, really), and the player marks his ball on the hole, does he have to finish the hole with the same ball once play resumes?
—Joe Rizzo, Douglasville, Ga. 

It is a good question, and one with a simple answer: No. When the One Ball Local Rule is being used, under Rule 5.7(d), a player can replace a ball when resuming play, so long as it’s the same type and model as detailed by a single entry on the confirming ball list. It doesn’t even need to be the same number.

For more ball-replacement guidance from our guru, read on …

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After marking ball on green and picking up ball, golfer or caddie drops ball, which rolls into water hazard, not retrievable. Replacement ball of exact brand and kind not available. What is penalty and how to continue?
—Earl Husband, Odessa, Texas

A ball lifted from putting green must be replaced, and it must be the exact same ball. If not same ball, make/model no matter — substituting ball without authority is a two-stroke penalty or loss of hole. Also, One Ball Condition of Competition is only encouraged for pros. Top-tier amateurs, too. Not for club play. My suggestion: Grip the ball tight! 

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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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