Why Ball Markers are so Important!

Quick Navigation:
What is a golf ball marker?​
What can be used as a golf ball marker?
Golf Rules about golf ball markers
How to mark the golf ball location?
1. When:
2. Where:
3. Replacement:
Conclusion


What is a golf ball marker?​

A golf ball marker could be any item, from a poker chip to a quarter. There is no specific rules around what the ball marker looks or feels like. The more important idea is what it represents. A ball marker marks the place of your golf ball that you lifted from the greens. You may lift the golf ball from the course when:

  • Your golf ball is a distraction to the other player
  • It may be in the way of another player’s putt
  • You want to clean your golf ball
  • You want to align the marks on your golf ball with the putting line
  • Another player claims a distraction

Golf ball markers should be used to mark the place where you picked up the ball from.


What can be used as a golf ball marker?

The USGA and R&A give you relatively free reign on selecting the golf ball marker. The definition leaves the selection of the marker entirely your choice, but it is recommended that you use something small, round and flat. Most golfers use a coin as a golf ball marker, but if you are looking for the most precise ball marker, then you need the Exact Golf Tool MAXI or MINI tool.

When it lies upon the course, it’s simply a placeholder that perfectly hugs the golf ball to ensure preciseness. Exact Golf will even imprint the tool with your brand logo or personal monogram.

Apart from dedicated golf ball markers, you can use divot tools or tees to mark the location of the golf ball. You don’t have to necessarily use a ball marker.

Note that you cannot consider a blemish or some other mark on the course as a ball mark. It will cost you one-stroke penalty. You can use the toe of your golf club as a marker though.​

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Golf Rules about golf ball markers

Absurd as it may seem, golf associations have specified rules about golf markers as well. The Rule 20-1 on Lifting and Marking states that:

The position of a ball to be lifted should be marked by placing a ball-marker, a small coin or other similar objects immediately behind the ball. If the ball-marker interferes with the play, stance or stroke of another player, it should be placed one or more clubhead-lengths to one side.Rule 20-1
Lifting and Marking states

Notice the wordplay. There is no clear indication that not placing a ball marker may be penalized under Rule 20-1. And that confusion is cleared in the following statement.

The position of the ball must be marked before it is lifted under a Rule that requires it to be replaced. If it is not marked, the player incurs a penalty of one stroke and the ball must be replaced. If it is not replaced, the player incurs the general penalty for breach of this Rule but there is no additional penalty under Rule 20-1.Rule 20-1
Lifting and Marking states

Competitions often insist that the players use small flat ball markers lest someone mark the golf ball location with a Christmas tree. That would be truly distracting. In the USPGA tour, there’s no current rule that requires you to use something small. But we must all do it from the goodness of our hearts. If we taint the good name of golf, we might all as well be animals.

If you are annoyed by the ostentatious golf ball marker of your opponent, you can do two things:

  • Politely ask the person to swap the cupcake they placed for an actual ball marker
  • You can ask the golfer to move the distracting golf ball marker away, one club length at a time until it is no longer distracting.

How to mark the golf ball location?

There are few steps to go through to use the golf ball marker:

1. When:

Marking the golf ball location is a whole different ballgame. This is a small step tripping with penalties. Firstly, the ball must be marked before it is lifted off the course. Failing to mark the ball location before you lift will cost you one-stroke penalty.

2. Where:

The ball marker should be placed immediately behind the ball before lifting. You get a one-stroke penalty to mark a ball by placing the marker more than an inch behind the ball. Upon dropping the ball, it should be right in front of the ball marker.

3. Replacement:

The golf ball should be replaced only by the player, player’s partner or the person who lifted the ball. Rule 20-3 states that:

If a ball or ball-marker is accidentally moved in the process of placing or replacing the ball, the ball or ball-marker must be replaced. There is no penalty, provided the movement of the ball or ball-marker is directly attributable to the specific act of placing or replacing the ball or removing the ball-marker. Otherwise, the player incurs a penalty of one stroke under Rule 18-2 or 20-1.Rule 20-1
Lifting and Marking states

Also as Lexi Thompson was painfully reminded during the LPGA’s ANA Inspiration in April 2017:

Lexi Thompson

If a ball to be replaced is placed other than on the spot from which it was lifted or moved and the error is not corrected as provided in Rule 20-6, the player incurs the general penalty, loss of hole in match play or two strokes in stroke play, for a breach of the applicable Rule.

The player is penalized if she/he drops the marker on the golf ball and moves it. But accidental movement because of wind or another player is not penalized.

This dramatic enforcement of the rule became the inspiration behind Exact Golf Tool. Michael Kenny, an avid golfer for 40+ years and inventor of Exact Golf Tool realized there was no “exact” way to mark a ball. While a coin or poker chip was directionally correct, it still does not provide a measurement of the exact spot a ball is positioned. After hundreds of sketches, Kenny took his design to manufacturing and even secured a patent with the United States government.

Conclusion

Golf ball markers are a tricky domain. Some of those rules are distinctively generic, but some are unnecessarily strict. That being said, this is a very convenient accessory that allows golfers to play without any hindrance from fellow golfers. Always keep in mind to be considerate and use some small, flat object as a marker. We have affinity for the best-in-calls 5-in-1 Exact Golf Divot Tool and Ball Marker.

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