When a player may substitute a ball: Part 1


I have written on this subject a few times although there seems to be no improvement in this area.

I see people substitute their golf balls in instances not permitted and sadly they get away with it without any punishment.

Does everyone know that there are just a few circumstances that allow an individual to substitute a ball in play?


Do we also know that it is not in all cases that a ball that has been lifted legally can be cleaned? Ok, let us read below.

If a player substitutes a ball when not entitled to do so they incur a penalty of two strokes in stroke play, or loss of hole in match play, for a breach of Rule 15-3, part of which states:

If a player substitutes a ball when not permitted to do so under the Rules (including an unintentional substitution when a wrong ball is dropped or placed by the player), that substituted ball is not a wrong ball; it becomes the ball in play. If the mistake is not corrected as provided for in Rule 20-6 and the player makes a stroke at an incorrectly substituted ball, he loses the hole in match play or incurs a penalty of two strokes in stroke play under the applicable Rule and, in stroke play, must play out the hole with the substituted ball.


Two examples of when a player unintentionally substitutes a ball are: When a ball is marked and lifted from the putting green, put in a pocket and then a different ball is replaced at the marker and played. This precludes a player from having a favourite ball for putting only.

  • When a ball is lifted from a putting green and is accidentally dropped or thrown somewhere from where it cannot be retrieved, e.g. in deep water of a water hazard.

Next week, we will look at examples when a player intentionally substitutes a ball when not entitled to.

The Author is an Apprentice Member of the Professional Golfers Association of South Africa and an R&A Certified Referee and Tournament Administrator. Feedback: +265 888 346 510/ or

Facebook Notice for EU! You need to login to view and post FB Comments!
Show More

Related Articles

Check Also

Back to top button

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker