Rules Guy: Can you use chalk to mark your ball on the green?

November 5, 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.

We have a local course where some people mark their ball on the green using colored chalk. I find this very distracting, and I’m not alone. Is this practice permissible? Ethical? —ELAINE BETSCH, NICEVILLE, FLA.

Chalk? Really? Is there an artists’ colony nearby? A kindergarten? I’ll leave the ethics to my cousin, The Ethicist. Rules-wise, a chalk mark is indeed permissible … but nowadays a marker must be removed before a player makes a stroke, so the chalk would have to be fully erased upon replacing the ball, lest the offender receive a one-stroke penalty under Rule 14.1a. This would seem to render the chalk mark more trouble than it’s worth, but we’ll leave that judgment to the art critics.

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