15.3 Ball or Ball-Marker Helping or Interfering with Play

15.3b Ball Anywhere on Course Interfering with Play

If another player reasonably believes your ball might interfere with his or her play:

  • The other player may require you to mark the spot and lift your ball, which must not be cleaned (except when you lifted from the putting green).
  • If you do not mark the spot before lifting your ball, or you clean the lifted ball when not allowed, you get one penalty stroke.
  • In stroke play only, if you are required to lift your ball under this Rule, you may play first instead.

You are not allowed to lift your ball under this Rule based only on your belief that your ball might interfere with another player’s play.

If you lift your ball when not required to do so by another player (except when lifting the ball on the putting green), you get one penalty stroke.

Who May Lift Ball

The player’s ball may be lifted under the Rules only by:

  • The player, or
  • Anyone the player authorizes, but such authorization must be given each time before the ball is lifted rather than given generally for the round.
Spot Where Ball Is Replaced
Ball May Be Replaced in Almost Any Orientation

When replacing a lifted ball on a spot, the Rules are concerned about only the location. The ball may be aligned in any way when being replaced (such as by lining up a trademark) so long as the ball’s vertical distance to the ground remains the same. This means you cannot tee it up on the mud stuck to the ball.

For example, when using a Rule that does not allow cleaning, the player lifts his or her ball and there is a piece of mud sticking to it. The ball may be aligned in any way when replacing it on the original spot (such as by rotating the interfering mud towards the hole).

However, the player is not allowed to replace the ball in an alignment so the ball rests on the mud unless that was its position before it was lifted. The “spot” of the ball includes its vertical location relative to the ground.