Does using a different colored ball on each hole violate the one-ball rule?

What do the rules say about using different colored balls during a round?

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The rules of golf are tricky! Fortunately, we have the guru. Our rules guy knows the book inside and out. you have a question? He has all the answers.

Can I use different colored balls during a round if they are all the same brand and model? I use orange on the first tee, green on the second tee, yellow on the third, then follow that pattern for the rest of the round. My golf buddies are more traditional players who only use white, and my rotation is driving them crazy – but am I cheating?
—Tim LaRocque, via email

What you are, Tim, is a colorful character! (And, coincidentally, “Tim LaRocque” is Rules Guy’s stage name when he fronts his cover band Spinal Tap.)

In the absence of special local rules in effect and provided you are playing a conforming golf ball, Rule 4.2a does not limit the type of ball you may change, whether between holes or when otherwise allowed to replace.

That said, if Model Local Rule G-4 (aka “the one-ball rule”) is in effect, you wouldn’t, repeat do not, be allowed to change to a different colored ball of the same make and model. Why? White, orange, green, yellow, etc. are different elements of the list of conforming balls; therefore, they are treated as different balls under this Local Rule.

There is a potential, albeit half-crazy, workaround: you can take a highlighter pen and hand-draw a make/model ball in different colors and be in the clear by the rules. Do that, Mondrian, and color us impressed.

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The Rules Man: What Should I Do If My Playing Partner Gets My Ball Without My Permission?


The rules guy

For more ball-related tips from our guru, read on…

Someone in my weekly league has a relentless habit of lifting any ball she thinks is hers without marking it. She refuses to take out her reading glasses and literally puts the bullet to her nose to identify it. To be clear, I’m not talking about looking for his ball. All of these balls are in full view in the fairway or rough. Whether or not it is her ball, she usually replaces the ball by throwing it from a height of a few centimeters near the place of origin. If the ball is hers, I know she should receive a one-stroke penalty for not marking her ball and perhaps a general penalty for playing an incorrectly substituted ball or playing from the wrong place. However, what is the ruling if she picks up my ball and does not mark it or replace it correctly? I’m really not sure she incurs a penalty for this behavior and I find it absolutely mind-boggling. Rule 7.4 states that there is no penalty if the player’s ball is accidentally moved by the player, opponent or anyone else while trying to identify it and it must simply be replaced on its spot. of origin. The penalty for breaking rule 7.4 is the general penalty. Would you say this player’s behavior is accidental?
—Kathy Bailey, Glen Cove, New York

First, my sympathies: Playing with Mrs. Magoo, picking up balls willy-nilly, must be infuriating. From a rules standpoint, players in the same group in stroke play are outside influences on each other and, as hard to swallow given the specifics of your case, there is no penalty if an outside influence moves a player’s ball.

Indeed, it is the responsibility of the owner of the ball, when he is aware or virtually certain that his ball has moved, to replace it on the original spot before continuing to play, under pain of incurring a penalty stroke.

In match play, the player would receive a penalty stroke for lifting your ball in play because she did not follow the required procedure to lift a ball for identification purposes. You will still have to ensure that your ball is replaced on the original spot, although you or your opponent may do so.

Since your nemesis’ behavior is a (bad, bad) habit, it’s a matter that should be addressed before the game, either by you or the club, which could warn him that to continue this trick careless will result in some sort of ban. Failing that, Rules Guy suggests you reach your ball faster than her.

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Do you have a question about the rules? Ask the guy for the rules! Send your questions, confusions and comments to [email protected] We promise he won’t throw the book at you.

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