USGA Rules of Golf: When Not to Clean Your Golf Ball

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Duration: 2:48

When it comes to the USGA rules of golf, there are many seemingly grey areas that could cause players to tack on unwanted strokes when they’re least expecting. That is unless you take the time to learn the ins and outs of each rule and can effectively make the right call when tricky situations arise during a round.

One such area of the game that might get golfers into trouble is the act of picking up and cleaning the golf ball. According to the USGA Rules of Golf, there are a number of circumstances that are deemed appropriate for a player to clean their ball, but there are also exceptions to the rule. In this lesson, we teach you what the USGA Rules of Golf have to say about cleaning your golf ball during a round.

USGA Rules of Golf: Rule 21 – When to clean your golf ball

To help you decide when it’s right and wrong to clean your golf ball out on the course, Mark Wilson of the PGA Rules Committee walks you through some of the finer points of Rule 21 of the USGA Rules of Golf. He begins by demonstrating some examples of proper golf ball cleaning that are in line with the USGA Rules of Golf, such as lifting a ball off the green before putting or picking up a ball that’s covered in mud to identify whether or not it’s yours.

To keep you from making a mistake, Mark also talks a bit about situations when you should avoid cleaning your golf ball and incurring a one-stroke penalty. You’ll learn why the USGA Rules of Golf deem it important to announce to your playing partners that you will be picking up a ball to attempt to identify it, and discover the correct way to mark the ball’s position prior to lifting it. It’s highly important to your score that you understand the rules and exceptions for cleaning your golf ball. Know the rules, and you’ll stay out of trouble!