Ask the Rules Guy: Lifting your ball marker without replacing your ball

Ask the Rules Guy

Hey, Rules Guy! I marked my ball on the green with a coin, near my playing partner's ball. She said that my marker was distracting and asked if I would replace it with one of her markers. I said sure and lifted my marker and put hers down in its place. She then triumphantly announced that I was penalized one stroke for lifting my marker without first replacing my ball! Did I break a rule? Or did I simply play with the wrong "friend"?
-- Sue Halleran, via e-mail

You did both, Sue. Under Rule 20-1, you incur a one-shot penalty for picking up your marker before replacing your ball. You should have put your ball back down, changed markers, and then picked up your ball again. Also, you were under no obligation to change your marker -- only to move it, when asked. Oh, and your playing partner might be the worst person in the world. Next time, play with someone a bit less diabolical. Dr. Evil, perhaps.


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