Rules Guy: What happens if my opponent accidentally moves my ball mark during match play?

August 27, 2019

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.

In match play, my opponent and I are both on the green. My ball mark is on his line, so I ask if he’d like me to move it. He says no, then walks by my mark and presses it down with his putter — and it sticks to the bottom of his putter! I didn’t want to make a big production out of it, so he replaced my mark as close as possible to its original location, and we played on. But what is the ruling? —KEVIN SMITH, VIA E-MAIL

The old “Crazy Glue on top of the ball mark” trick, eh, Kevin? Very sneaky … you should be ashamed of yourself! As it happens, this isn’t a sticky situation in the least. If the player wouldn’t get a penalty, neither would the opponent. So, assuming your opponent didn’t mean to move your mark — and there’s no reason for suspicion — then under Rule 9.7 you do just replace the ball or ball marker and get on with things. Only if your opponent had intended to move your mark would there be a one-stroke penalty.

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