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Dropping & Replacing

Whether on the green or a cart path, there will be many times during a round where you have the option of lifting and replacing, or lifting and dropping, your ball. Surprisingly often, these are done incorrectly. Below we have included a few notes to help you take full advantage (correctly) of lifting, dropping, and replacing your ball.

Lifting and Replacing

There are just a few important points to remember about lifting and replacing:
  • A ball can be marked, lifted and replaced by you anyone you designate.

  • If a ball is to be replaced, it must be marked before it is lifted. Use a small, flat object like a coin or marker (Canadian $2 coins make great markers).

  • If the ball is lifted on the green, it can be cleaned. Elsewhere on the course, it can be cleaned except when it has been lifted to be identified, to be checked for damage, or because it interferes with play (e.g., a ball that interferes with your stance).

  • Place the marker directly behind the ball. If the ball accidently moves when you mark, lift, or replace it, the ball or marker can be replaced with no penalty.

  • When replacing the ball, if it fails to rest on the spot where it is placed, replace it again without penalty. If it still moves, it should be placed at the nearest spot (not closer to the hole) where it won't move (but if the ball was in a hazard, it must stay in the hazard).
Lifting and Dropping

There are a few differences between lifting & dropping and lifting & replacing: Dropping
  • A ball can be lifted by anyone the player designates, but only the player themselves can drop the ball.

  • To drop the ball, stand erect and hold the ball with an outstretched arm, at shoulder height and arm's length. Then drop it - don't toss it, flip it, or spin it, just drop it.

  • The ball can be re-dropped without penalty if, when it is dropped, it hits you or your equipment, rolls into a hazard, onto a putting green or out of bounds, rolls more than two club lengths away from where you dropped it, or rolls back into the same situation which caused you to drop it in the first place. If any of the above happen when you re-drop it, the ball should then be placed as near as possible to the spot the ball first hit when you re-dropped it (see the explanation above on placing).

  • If you play a ball that has been dropped or placed the wrong way or in the wrong spot, you will incur a penalty of two strokes or loss of the hole (in match play).
For More Information
For further details on lifting, dropping, and replacing the ball, take a look at Rules 20, 21, & 22 in the Official Rules of Golf. The above article is meant to help clarify some of the basics about the rules of golf. If the above comes into conflict with local rules or the USGA, the latter two should always be taken as correct.

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