VINCENT VAN GOLF
Dearest Rules Guy:
During a recent round, I hit a shot that came to rest close to a freshly painted hazard line. My ball must have rolled across the line because there was paint all over the ball. Was I permitted to lift and clean the ball before playing my next shot?
— Richard Brophy, via e-mail
Would you believe me if I told you that's how colored golf balls were invented? (Good, because I made that up.) Unfortunately, Decision 21/1 forbids you from cleaning your ball. You would only be allowed to remove the paint if the ball was in a position from which it could be lifted under the rules and cleaned under Rule 21, such as when you get to the green. On the upside, identifying your ball just became a whole lot easier!