Rules of a Golf Ball Moved While Placing a Marker

by Lucy Dale
Golf balls can be moved accidentally while placing a marker.

Golf balls can be moved accidentally while placing a marker.

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In contemporary golf, you need to mark your ball's placement while on the green because this will keep your place while allowing the other player the maximum amount of freedom in his shot. When a ball moves while you are placing your marker, however, you may not know whether or not you incur a penalty. In fact, the penalty depends on the situation.


To mark their places, players use small plastic or metal disks, or markers, that vary in size between that of a quarter and that of a dime. These can have designs on them, such as a particular logo; there are no rules governing the size of a marker. The rules of golf do regulate their placement, however, especially regarding golf ball movement.

Marking the Ball

If you move the golf ball as the direct result of placing your marker, you do not incur a penalty. For example, if you place your marker and nudge the golf ball, moving it in the process, you will not incur a penalty as long as the marker stays in the correct position. Lifting the ball from the marker also falls under this rule; you are not penalized for lifting the ball while placing your marker.

Other Circumstances

If the movement of the golf ball while placing your marker has nothing to do with the actual act of placing the marker, however, you will incur a penalty. For example, if the wind were to move your ball before you placed or removed your marker, and you misplaced the ball while trying to return it, you would still incur a penalty shot for a moved ball.

Historical Cases

Several professional golfers have experienced the unfortunate circumstances of their golf ball moving, not as the result of placing their markers, and thus incurring penalty strokes. For example, Jesper Parnevik dropped a ball that was tossed to him, moving his marker; this incurred a penalty stroke because he was not marking the ball at the time.

Photo Credits

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