Is it legal to adjust the alignment of your ball after you pick up your mark?

What do the rules say about adjusting your ball’s alignment after picking up your mark?

Getty Images

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 got all the answers.

Player A marked his ball on the green. When his turn to putt came, he removed his marker…then noticed the ball wasn’t aligned the way he wanted. He adjusted it without remembering to re-mark the ball. I called a one-stroke penalty. Was I correct? And does it matter whether he lifted the ball off the ground or simply rotated it?
—Kerry Joyce, Euclid, Ohio

You were as right as rain, Kerry.

He was due one penalty stroke under Rule 14.1 for failing to mark the spot prior to lifting the ball — and this would be true even if he had just rotated the ball, because by the internal definition in Rule 14.1, deliberately rotating the ball is treated the same as “lifting” it. You can’t spin your way out of that.

putter on the green

Rules Guy: Is it legal to use my putter as a ball mark?


Rules Guy

For more marking guidance from our guru, read on…

I was playing on damp greens recently. My playing partner asked the location of my ball, which I had marked with a penny. To show the mark, I pressed down lightly on it with my putter. The wet coin stuck to the bottom of my putter. What next? Is that a penalty?
—Blake Giles, via email

It is merely cause for a good chuckle, and an accidental movement that under Rule 13.1(d) can be corrected without penalty by replacing either the ball mark or the ball itself back to where the mark was before it was lifted.

Next time, however, Rules Guy suggests show, don’t tamp.

Need help unriddling the greens at your home course? Pick up a custom Green Book from 8 AM Golf affiliate Golf Logix.

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

Golf Magazine

Subscribe To The Magazine


generic profile image

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.