St. Enodoc Golf Club - Nick Williams answers your questions on the Rules of Golf

Nick Williams answers your questions on the Rules of Golf

Do you need to mark your ball? Is the makers mark sufficient?

It is customary and indeed courteous on the 1st tee to declare to your partners the type of ball you are playing with and what specific identifying marks it may have. Similarly when you play a provisional ball. But which Rule of Golf requires this? What is the penalty for failing to do so ?

Nick explains - “It may come as a surprise to some Members to know that there is no requirement or Rule which makes marking your ball mandatory and there is no penalty for failing to do so. All that is required by the Rules is that a player can positively identify their ball in play per Rule 12-2. Rules 12-2 and 6-5 only say “Each player should put an identification mark on his ball” However the difficulty and potential penalties start when your unmarked Titleist 2 is found next to another Titleist 2 in the rough. How do you proceed ? If you are are unable to identify your ball then you proceed as if it were a lost ball i.e. go back to the place where you played your preceding shot from and put another ball into play under penalty of stroke and distance.

I have often wondered how many Titleist Pro V1, No.2, balls there are on our course at any one time. My guess is that the average is probably in excess of 18, or 1 per hole. So, how can a player positively identify their Pro V1, No.2, from the others on the course, if there is no identification mark? Even this may not be sufficient. I know of a Member here who plays the Church course about three times a week and always slices his drive on the 10th. On one occasion searching as usual up the hill, after a couple of minutes, he shouted to his fellow searchers that he had found his Titleist No.1 ball. “How do you know it is yours?” responded his marker. “It has the same personal identification that I always use”, he responded. “You hit so many balls into this rough that it would need to have today’s date on it for you to be sure”, was the terse, unsympathetic reply!

Part of Rule 12-2 states that each player should put an identification mark on his ball. My strong recommendation is that each player must put an identification mark on their balls if they want to avoid incurring unnecessary penalties for playing a wrong ball, or not being able to positively identify a ball that has been found.