The Proper Way to Mark Your Ball On The Green

According to Southern California Golf Association, this is a way that some golfers can either knowingly or unknowingly cheat. There’s a suggested way to mark your ball on the green to keep you out of trouble. 

I’ve actually seen some women put their marker in one place to pick up their ball, but then put the ball closer to the hole when they go to replace their ball.

This is a no-no!

Yes, the rules say you can mark your golf ball on the green with anything you like and you can mark it where you like…

BUT if sometimes you place it to the right of your ball, and sometimes behind it, then you’re in danger of making a mistake and inadvertently advancing your ball closer to the hole when you’re ready to replace your ball and putt.

The best way to avoid any penalty is to always place your marker directly behind the ball, then pick up the ball.

And don’t forget to repair the divot your ball made when it hit the green.  Golf etiquette dictates you should repair your ball mark and one other. Here’s a USGA video that shows you the proper way to repair a divot on the green.


Repairing ball marks and spike marks on the green after you all putt out is an important part of caring for the green. (Photo by: Elizabeth Ireland Lanz)

1. Care For The Green

Some greens are softer than others, but if you and your girlfriends/playing companions/opponents have hit the green with a high/lofted approach shot, then you’ve made a mark that should be repaired.

Look for your divot and without walking on anyone else’s line, repair it. This quick USGA video shows exactly how to repair your ball mark so your putt will run smoothly over it, and protect the green from becoming a brown spot (that will prevent the ball from rolling straight).

Tip: A great habit to be in is repair your ball mark, PLUS one more. 

Rule 16-1: On the putting green you may: repair ball marks and old hole plugs, but not any other damage, such as spike marks.

2. Yes, Repair Your Spike Marks!

Yes, rule 16-1 says you can’t repair spike marks from your golf shoes, but they mean before you putt.  Once everyone has putted out it is absolutely the right thing to do to tap down or repair any spike marks you or your girlfriends have made (as a courtesy to others).

Think about it, if we all make our own repairs, then every time we reach a green it will be so much smoother, right?

  • Don’t jump on the green
  • Don’t spin your feet around, causing damage to the green
  • Don’t walk in front of another player’s line of putt

Pace-of-Play Tip: If you hole out first, you should be the one to replace the flagstick after your companions have sunk their putts.



San Diego native, interior design nut, and golf addict (with a hopelessly bad swing)

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