Ask the Rules Guy: Off the (ball) mark

Tuesday November 15th, 2011
Ask the Rules Guy

OFF THE (BALL) MARK
I was playing what I thought was a friendly game with a coworker last week. We were both on the green, and, to save time, I decided to do away with marking my ball and simply rotated it a bit so that my ball mark faced the hole. My "friend" called me out, saying that you have to mark your ball if you are going to move it. I replied that, not only had a not changed the location of the ball, I hadn't even lifted it off the ground (just rotated it). Still, he insisted that I had to mark my ball. Tell me I can tell him off.
-- Jon M., via e-mail


This is why you should never mix business with pleasure. According to Decision 18-2a/33, any time a player adjusts the ball on the green for a reason not provided for in the Rules, he must mark the position of his ball. By touching your ball  (much less actually moving or rotating it), you were in violation of Rule 18-2, and earned a one-stroke penalty. If you had listened to your coworker, you would have saved yourself a shot -- sounds like you've got some apologizing to do at the water cooler.

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