What was previously just a Local Rule at some courses is now an official rule in 2019. There is no penalty if you accidentally move your ball on the green. Period. Whew!
Rule 13 covers everything that happens on the putting green. Rule 13.1d says, “There is no penalty if the player, opponent or another player in stroke play accidentally moves the player’s ball or ball-marker on the putting green.”
When you or another player accidentally cause your ball to move you will then replace your ball or your ball-marker on its original spot (or the estimated spot if the exact spot is unknown).
Natural Forces Moved The Ball
Sometimes the ball gets moved by Natural Forces (wind, rain, gravity) and when that happens there are two possible actions that need to be taken.
According to Rule 13.1d,“If Natural Forces cause a player’s ball on the putting green to move, where the player must play from next depends on whether the ball had already been lifted and replaced on its original spot.”
- Ball already lifted and replaced: The ball must be replaced on its original spot (or an estimated spot if not known), even though it was moved by Natural Forces and not by the player, the opponent or an outside influence.
- Ball not already lifted and replaced: The ball must be played from its new spot.
You can think of it this way: once you lift and mark your ball with a ball-marker and replace the ball back on the green, your ball “owns that spot”. It lives there. It’s at home. So anytime it was at home, you will need to put it back there where it lives if Natural Forces move the ball.
Hope that makes it a bit easier to remember!
And remember, you can repair any damage to the green.
For more details on the rules, head over to usga.org.
Learn more about Repairing Marks on the Green.
Or pop over to my Instagram and let me know what other video rules breakdowns you’d like to see.