You, as the player, are responsible for playing the correct ball at all times, so it is always a good idea to put your own identification mark on your ball, so that you can readily see that it is, indeed, yours before playing it.

But sometimes you’re going to find yourself hunting high and low for a ball in deep rough or bushes, and if a ball that you then discover is particularly badly buried, it may not always be possible to confirm that it is yours, even with those identification marks.

In this, the latest in our Rules of Golf video series produced in association with The R&A, we highlight the correct procedure you must follow. The only way to establish whether or not it is yours will be to lift it and take a closer look, but before you rush in and do just that, there is a set three-part processs you must adhere to in order to avoid incurring an unnecessary penalty when identifying your ball.

Rule 12-2 allows you to lift the ball without penalty, but you must comply with these three requirements when doing so:-

  • Before lifting the ball, you must announce your intention to your opponent, marker or fellow-competitor and you must first mark the position of the ball.
  • When you do then lift it, you must give your opponent, marker or fellow-competitor the opportunity to observe the lifting and subsequent replacement of your ball.
  • If there is mud or dirt on the ball, you may only clean it away to the extent required to allow you to identify it.

If you fail to comply on one, two or all three of these counts, you will be penalised a stroke.

Finally, if you’re playing the same make, type and number of ball throughout, it is always a good idea to mark a provisional ball slightly differently to allow you to determine which is the provisional ball and which is the original ball should you happen to despatch them to the same part of the jungle!