Marking and Lifting a Ball

Marking and Lifting a Ball

Hope you are all keeping safe and looking forward to the day playing golf can return, in one form or another.

Following my last post, concerning Winter Golf, an interesting observation was made by a follower of My Golf Blog:

‘I can’t see in model local rule E-3 any recommendation to mark the ball’.

Previously up to December 3st 2018, the Local Rule for Preferred Lies included the words:

‘Before lifting the ball, the player must mark its position’.

In the 2019 Rules of Golf this wording was removed, so removing the requirement to mark a ball if taking relief when a Local Rule for Preferred Lies has been adopted.

The Previous Rules of Golf always stated that the position of a ball must be marked before it is lifted under a Rule that requires it to be replaced.

But, what many of you may not have known was that there was never any requirement to mark the position of a ball that was to be lifted and placed or dropped when taking relief under a Rule of Golf.

There was always confusion over this, especially given the wording of the ‘old’ Preferred Lie local rule which conflicted with the Rules of Golf (old Rule 20.1)

The position with Marking and Lifting a ball has now been clarified with the wording of Rules of Golf 14.1.

14.1 – Marking, Lifting and Cleaning Ball

This Rule applies to the deliberate “lifting” of a player’s ball at rest, which includes picking up the ball by hand, rotating it or otherwise deliberately causing it to move from its spot.

a Spot of Ball to Be Lifted and Replaced Must Be Marked

Before lifting a ball under a Rule requiring the ball to be replaced on its original spot, the player must mark the spot which means to:

  • Place a ball-marker right behind or right next to the ball, or
  • Hold a club on the ground right behind or right next to the ball.

If the spot is marked with a ball-marker, after replacing the ball the player must remove the ball-marker before making a stroke (otherwise the player gets one penalty stroke – my wording).

If the player lifts the ball without marking its spot, marks its spot in a wrong way or makes a stroke with a ball-marker left in place, the player gets one penalty stroke.

If multiple Rule breaches result from a single act or related acts, see Rule 1.3c(4).

When a ball is lifted to take relief under a Rule, the player is not required to mark the spot before lifting the ball.

You can read more by clicking on the link below:

Procedures for Ball: Marking, Lifting and Cleaning; Replacing on Spot; Dropping in Relief Area; Playing from Wrong Place (

Keep safe and well

Best wishes


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2 Replies to “Marking and Lifting a Ball”

  1. So this means a player can DELIBERATELY clean their ball for a one shot penalty?
    I am thinking of recent tournaments where many mud balls veered off line. (With a 2 /3 shot lead and playing your second shot from 200yards on the last hole over water, it would be sensible to deliberately clean your ball !!!!).

    1. Hi Bob
      Not quite!
      You may be forgiven for thinking it but I would go no further than that unless you want to be tarred with the same brush as Phil Mickelson or Patrick Reed and have members think twice before playing with you or your Club banning you from competitions.
      Well, in the first place you must have a good reason for lifting your ball and you can only lift a ball under a Rule of Golf. So, if you have no legitimate reason to lift your ball you will incur a 1-stroke penalty for that on top of your 1-stroke penalty for cleaning the ball.
      But, if you felt you had a good reason to lift your ball, you are still deliberately breaching a Rule of Golf for your own advantage and gaining an advantage over your competitors.
      Which brings me on to the real reasons why you should not even contemplate this action.
      1. The central principles of the game of golf for the player are:
      • Play the course as you find it and play the ball as it lies.
      • Play by the Rules and in the spirit of the game.
      • You are responsible for applying your own penalties if you breach a Rule, so that you cannot gain any potential advantage over your opponent in match play or other players in stroke play.
      2. All players are expected to play in the spirit of the game by following certain advice and this includes:
      • Acting with integrity – for example, by following the Rules, applying all penalties, and being honest in all aspects of play.
      There is no penalty under the Rules for failing to act against the spirit of the game in this way, except that the Committee may disqualify a player for acting contrary to the spirit of the game if it finds that the player has committed serious misconduct.
      The meaning of Serious Misconduct is dealt with under Interpretation 1.2a/1:
      The phrase “serious misconduct” in Rule 1.2a is intended to cover player misconduct that is so far removed from the expected norm in golf that the most severe sanction of removing a player from the competition is justified. This includes dishonesty, deliberately interfering with another player’s rights, or endangering the safety of others.
      The Committee must determine if the misconduct is serious considering all the circumstances. Even if the Committee determines that the misconduct is serious, it may take the view that it is more appropriate to warn the player that a repeat of the misconduct or similar misconduct will result in disqualification, instead of disqualifying him or her in the first instance.
      There are a number of examples of actions by a player that are likely to be considered serious misconduct included amongst them is:
      • Deliberately not playing in accordance with the Rules and potentially gaining a significant advantage by doing so, despite incurring a penalty for a breach of the relevant Rule.
      Penalties other than disqualification may be imposed for player misconduct only if those penalties are adopted as part of a Code of Conduct under Rule 1.2b
      An action that may be considered as a compromise when dealing with a ‘Mud Ball’, is that when replacing your ball there is no requirement to place it back in the same orientation.
      It must be placed back in the same horizontal and vertical planes but it can be rotated so that the your club will not strike the mud on the ball.
      What you are not allowed to do is place the ball with the mud downwards, this would raise the position of the ball vertically from its original position.
      But, this action still depends upon the lifting of the ball being legitimate under a Rule of Golf in the first place,
      I hope this clears things up for you.

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