Rules Guy: Can my partner refuse to move a ball that’s in my way?

September 21, 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.

Q: I came up about five feet short of the green on my approach shot, and the grass was short enough that I decided to putt. The problem: My buddy had also come up short, three feet ahead of my ball, directly in my putting line. I asked him to mark his ball. He refused, saying that you aren’t allowed to mark your ball anywhere but on the green. I asked him to play first. He refused again, claiming the rules dictated the farther ball be played first, while also admitting that he didn’t want to give me a read. I ended up chipping over his ball. But was he correct about the marking?

What do you do when your partner's ball is blocking yours — and he or she refuses to move it?
Getty Images

Please let me introduce you and your rather uncharitable buddy (lawyer, perchance?) to Rule 15.3b, which states that if a ball is interfering with one’s play, you have the right to have it lifted anywhere on the course. Once you have made this request, the other player is obligated to lift the ball; in stroke play, he or she has the choice to play first rather than lift. He or she may not, however, plead the fifth.

Got a question about the Rules? Ask the Rules Guy! Send your queries, confusions and comments to [email protected] We promise he won’t throw the book at you.