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Rules Question - Marking ball on the green...

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 
I've read the USGA rules for marking the ball on the green and even had a spirited discussion with my best friend once when he said I 'had to' use a flat coin or marker and couldn't use a tee to mark my ball on the green.

I use a solid line on my ball to help align it to the intended putting line. My question is this... can I position my putter 'alongside' the ball while I'm aligning my ball and use it as the 'ball marker' as I am adjusting the ball so the the aiming line points where I want.

Am I doing anything wrong here?

Questions:

1. Do I need to still keep a coin behind the ball if I have my putter (which has a single red aiming line on it, so it's even more precise than a coin) when I 'rotate' the ball in place to align it to my aiming line.

2. Is it legal to even set my putter 'alongside' the ball and use it to help aim my putt? I do this to create a vertical alignment (kind of like plumb-bobbing).

Thanks for your assistance.

btw - Shot 82 yesterday at Heron Lakes (Great Blue in Portland, OR - one of the toughest courses in the area). Finished the round with 6 pars and a birdie on the last 7 holes! It was most gratifying, as it was a combination of GIR, solid 'up & downs' and good putting, so I felt like it represented my short game work paying off.
post #2 of 33

Re: Rules Question - Marking ball on the green...

when you say... 'along side'... you mean grounding your putter?
im not sure but the only time youre allowed to ground the putter is when youre about to take a stroke at the ball?
post #3 of 33
Thread Starter 

Re: Rules Question - Marking ball on the green...

Originally Posted by flopdarock View Post
when you say... 'along side'... you mean grounding your putter?
im not sure but the only time youre allowed to ground the putter is when youre about to take a stroke at the ball?
If you are kneeling behind the ball, marking it, putt the putter in your left hand and turn it so the face is sideways to the ball and setting on the ground, next to the ball (but not touching it). My logic (and it may be flawed) is that the putter is setting in same spot as if I'm would be taking a practice stroke to the left of the ball. It's legal to ground your putter when taking those practice strokes, so this should be legal also.

The putter is NOT behind the ball. But, I also don't think this would be an issue, since I've seen many players line up there putt, standing behind the ball with the putter in front of them where it would be to putt and then walking around, holding the putter in place.

What I'm doing is using the putter shaft as a straight line extension visually to align my ball mark. Also, if I don't have a coin under the ball, I'm using the line on my putter face to 'mark' the ball.
post #4 of 33

Re: Rules Question - Marking ball on the green...

Marking with a tee is not against the rules and is ok if you are next to putt, but is bad etiquette if someone else will be putting while your tee is sticking in the green.

As for the alignment thing you describe with your putter, I don't know if it is a rules violation or not but it sounds slow.

Just use a coin like everyone else.
post #5 of 33

Re: Rules Question - Marking ball on the green...

I was just playing with a total rules freak and he claimed that sticking the tee in the green is illegal. I did not feel like looking it up but that is what he claims.
post #6 of 33

Re: Rules Question - Marking ball on the green...

I'm pretty sure I know what you mean with the putter thing you described. I do it sometimes too when I'm just playing in a practice round or whatever.

Is it illegal? Apparently not (thought it was). Is it a big deal? Not at all, because you aren't gaining any advantage to not using a coin. If you're in a tournament, MAKE SURE you use a ball marker...just to avoid confusion and hassle.

BTW, Nice Job on the round - I always find it tough to shoot a good score on the last few holes when I know I have a good round going, nice job, that's an accomplishment in and of itself.
post #7 of 33

Re: Rules Question - Marking ball on the green...

There is no rule or definition about what constitutes a "ball marker." You're free to use a putter, a tee, a coin, a hippopotamus carcass, whatever you have handy. It's not recommended, but it's 100% legal.

Ruling 20-1/16:
Q. The Note to Rule 20-1 provides that "the position of a ball to be lifted should be marked by placing a ball-marker, a small coin or other similar object immediately behind the ball." Is a player penalized if he uses an object that is not similar to a ball-marker or small coin to mark the position of his ball?

A. No. The provision in the Note to Rule 20-1 is a recommendation of best practice, but there is no penalty for failing to act in accordance with the Note.

Examples of methods of marking the position of a ball that are not recommended, but are permissible, are as follows:

• placing the toe of a club at the side of, or behind, the ball;

• using a tee;

• using a loose impediment;

• scratching a line, provided the putting green is not tested (Rule 16-1d) and a line for putting is not indicated (Rule 8-2b). As this practice may cause damage to the putting green, it is discouraged.

However, under Rule 20-1 it is necessary to physically mark the position of the ball. Reference to an existing mark on the ground does not constitute marking the position of a ball. For example, it is not permissible to mark the position with reference to a blemish on the putting green.

When moving a ball or ball-marker to the side to prevent it from interfering with another player's stance or stroke, the player may measure from the side of the ball or ball-marker. In order to accurately replace the ball on the spot from which it was lifted, the steps used to move the ball or ball-marker to the side should be reversed. (Revised)
post #8 of 33

Re: Rules Question - Marking ball on the green...

yea wat the guy above me said it doesnt matter.i could use my bag if i wanted to.
post #9 of 33

Re: Rules Question - Marking ball on the green...

No, you can't use your bag. Read the rule.
post #10 of 33
Thread Starter 

Re: Rules Question - Marking ball on the green...

Originally Posted by zeg View Post
There is no rule or definition about what constitutes a "ball marker." You're free to use a putter, a tee, a coin, a hippopotamus carcass, whatever you have handy. It's not recommended, but it's 100% legal.

Ruling 20-1/16: etc...
Thanks for the updated Rule 20-1/16, I read this rule extensively about 8 years ago to settle a bet about the "Tee vs. Coin" debate (which I won, see 'the bet' below if you want a funny read . I think the part about the 'toe of the club" is new, I do that also if I'm playing by myself or in a casual round. It's actually faster than a coin, since I don't fumble around in my pocket for one. I also don't line it up, then step back, line up again with coin, etc.

What I've settled on (so I don't screw up in a tournament) is marking with a coin and then using my putter to the side method for giving me a reference for aligning the ball. I then remove the coin and putt. Seems to be working and I'm more confident about the line.

CG031 - Thanks - yeah, it was quite exciting to finish a round like I did!

The "Tee vs. Coin" bet...

My buddy Bill, my brother (Ed) and I were playing years ago. He knows I'm a 'rules geek' and likes to try and get in my head every once in a while. I marked my ball with a tee and he tells me I can't do that, it must be "a flat, coin-like object, blah, blah". I tell him you can use anything to mark your ball, which he replies with "oh...so you can use a hubcap, then?". Sure, I say...let's bet ($20). I look it up on the USGA website and it has a few decisions, one of which says something to the effect of "Player A marks his ball with a daisy, is this allowed? Yes, but not recommended, as the daisy could blow away". Well, being the 'computer geek' also, I copy the HTML (web-code) and add another section formatted exactly the same that read "Player A marks his ball with a hubcap, is this allowed? It is, except if the hubcap is from a 1970s Gremlin or AMC Pacer, then it is a 2-shot penalty". I hand him the printout and he's reading along and gets to the 'hubcap' part and just busts up laughing. Of course, he paid my the $20 also! Even better, the next time we all go golfing together, I brought a hubcap and my brother brought a frisbee. We get to the first green and use those to mark our balls. You should have seen his face when we pulled them out!
post #11 of 33

Re: Rules Question - Marking ball on the green...

If you were to ground your putter right behind the ball, and then move the ball, wouldn't that be similar to when you see the pros ground their putter on a windy day and then the balls move a tiny bit....and subsequently they are assessed a penalty. I can see placing the club anywhere else, but to hold it in an upright position with the clubface lined up on the desired putting line and the sole grounded, would seem to define addressing the ball...unless that means you also need to be standing in your putting stance.
What if while you are moving your ball to try and line it up, it touches the face of the putter...have you not just "hit a shot"?

I have no idea...just some questions out of curiousity.
post #12 of 33

Re: Rules Question - Marking ball on the green...

You can't use your putter to mark the position of the ball like that, no. If you're touching ball on the putting green, you need to have a mark behind it.

Others have answered the "tee" question just fine.
post #13 of 33

Re: Rules Question - Marking ball on the green...

when i'm playing in a regular round, if i put my foot right behind the ball, clen the ball, then put it back, would that be against any rules?
post #14 of 33

Re: Rules Question - Marking ball on the green...

Originally Posted by iacas View Post
You can't use your putter to mark the position of the ball like that, no. If you're touching ball on the putting green, you need to have a mark behind it.
This seems contrary to the ruling I posted earlier; can you explain what you mean? It would seem that as long as you're using a specific spot on the putter to "physically mark" the position of your ball, it's as good as any of the other examples. Further, in one of the other rulings near 20-1/16 I believe they address whether you must mark "behind" the ball (and say that no, but it is recommended).
post #15 of 33

Re: Rules Question - Marking ball on the green...

I think I saw that on the PGA Tour once. A player marking his ball from the side of the ball, relative to the hole. I'd say it's the same as moving the marker with your putter to get out of someones line. The important thing is to have something behind the green to aim through, so you can put the ball back in the exact same place. When we mark it behind the ball, we use the hole as this point to aim through. Same thing, just another object to mark through.
post #16 of 33

Re: Rules Question - Marking ball on the green...

Originally Posted by Saint View Post
when i'm playing in a regular round, if i put my foot right behind the ball, clen the ball, then put it back, would that be against any rules?
Yeah, very much so.

Originally Posted by zeg View Post
This seems contrary to the ruling I posted earlier; can you explain what you mean? It would seem that as long as you're using a specific spot on the putter to "physically mark" the position of your ball, it's as good as any of the other examples. Further, in one of the other rulings near 20-1/16 I believe they address whether you must mark "behind" the ball (and say that no, but it is recommended).
Your foot and your putter aren't sitting still. The idea behind marking your ball is that something is not moving at every step of the process. Your ball's sitting there, you leave a mark, you pick up your ball.

If you drop your putter after you pick up your ball, or sneeze and move your foot, where was your ball originally? You don't know. You need to mark your ball with something that you then aren't touching so it doesn't move.
post #17 of 33

Re: Rules Question - Marking ball on the green...

I use a water beetle, and hope it crawls its way closer to the cup.
post #18 of 33

Re: Rules Question - Marking ball on the green...

I could have sworn that I saw someone in a televised tournament put the toe of their putter up against the ball to mark it, lifted the ball and cleaned it, and then replaced it back on the toe of the putter. It sounded in the rules like this was allowed but not recommended?
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