Golf Drop Rules: Dropped or Replaced Golf Ball

Duration: 1:16

Have you ever wondered whether or not your golf ball is legally in play once you’ve replaced it in front of your marker on the green? To put any concerns to rest, Mark Wilson of the PGA Rules Committee teaches you exactly what Rule 20-4 has to say about golf drop rules and the status of a dropped or replaced ball.

How golf drop rules work

Golf drop rules dictate if you lose a stroke when the wind, rain or other natural element moves your ball after it has been dropped or replaced. The same rules that apply because of a hazard or out-of-bonds shot apply on the green.

As an example of a time when golf drop rules are unclear, Mark describes a scenario in which a player picks up his golf ball on the green after marking it. He cleans it off, waits for his playing partners to finish the hole, and then resets the ball for his putt, but he keeps the marker behind the ball until he’s ready to play. Now, say the ball moves because of the wind or the slope of the green while the marker is still down–is the player penalized? Technically, yes, according to Rule 20-4, which states that a dropped or replaced ball is ruled in play as soon as it touches the playing surface.

The importance of golf drop rules

There are a number of situations like this regarding golf drop rules and other scenarios when amateur golfers may not know if they should be penalized a stroke. That’s why it’s highly important to know the rules and recognize when they should be enforced. Mark offers several similar tips on the PGA rulebook throughout our video series, so feel free to check out the rest and educate yourself on the nuances of the game.

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4 Responses to “Golf Drop Rules: Dropped or Replaced Golf Ball”
  1. Russell

    What if you place the coin, and you don’t touch your ball, walk the green to analyze the putt and then it moves?

    • Customer Service
      Customer Service

      Hi, Russell. If the ball is left on the green, it is in play regardless of whether you have your mark next to the ball. So if the ball moves on its own without you causing the movement (like due to the wind), the ball would need to be played from the new position it comes to rest without penalty to the player. Having your ball mark next to the ball does not allow you to move it back to its original position. If you are marking your ball and then analyzing the green, I suggest you pick the ball up so it is not in play. Thanks for your question and hope you enjoy your next round!

  2. Kevin

    the video does not mention penalty for the ball being “blown”. The description states the player is penalized. Without an action by the player, is he/she penalized for the ball moving?

    • Customer Service
      Customer Service

      Hi, Kevin. If a ball has been placed, it is considered back in play. If the ball is then subsequently moved/blown by the wind, the player must play the ball from the new position where it has come to rest. There is no penalty to the player. What Mark was communicating was that the player is not entitled to move the ball back to its original position, even if the ball marker was left next to the ball. Once the ball has been placed, it is considered back in play. Hope this helps and you enjoy your next round!