Does A Ball Marker Have To Be Round? — (How Golf Ball Markers Work)

does a ball marker have to be round to have a golf rule for ball marker shapes

During a round of golf, you’ll watch your fellow golfers use a ball marker to mark their golf ball before they putt it. Some may use a small coin, and others use a poker chip. Some might even use a tee

Have you ever wondered if a ball marker has to be round? What do the rules of golf say? What’s legal and what’s not? Are you breaking the rules every time you play? The golf experts at Tell Me More Golf will tell you what you need to know about ball markers and how to use them properly.

does a ball marker have to be round to have a golf rule for ball marker shapes

Golf Rule For Ball Marker Shapes

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The USGA rules define a ball marker as an artificial object when used to mark the spot of a ball to be lifted, such as a tee, a coin, an object made to be a ball-marker or another small piece of equipment. The USGA does not define what shape a ball marker can be, only that it is an object used to mark the ball before lifting the ball and replacing it.

Your ball marker does not have to be round, but needs to be a small piece of equipment that does not distract your fellow golfers.

The USGA rule does state that the ball-marker must be an artificial object, so you cannot use a leaf or piece of turf to mark your ball.


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The USGA also does not prohibit the size of a ball marker. The USGA rules say that it needs to be artificial or a small piece of equipment.

Golf etiquette says that your ball marker should be small enough that it is not a distraction for your fellow golfers. 

Players often use quarters or other small coins to mark the ball on the putting surface on the PGA tour. Golfers often use a golf tee when they need to mark their ball in the fairway or in the rough.


How Do Golf Ball Markers Work?

Professional golfers often use a tee to mark the ball’s original spot when picking the ball up and before placing or dropping the ball back into play when not on the putting surface.

Most golfers will use a small coin to mark their ball on the greens like a dime or another small object. Marking the ball is done so that the ball markers don’t interfere with the putting line of fellow golfers. The ball marker can be right behind or next to the ball. 

You can also hold a club on the ground to the side or behind the ball to mark it.

Finally, players can use the putter head to mark the ball when moving their ball mark out of another player’s putting line.  

A one-stroke penalty can be enforced in stroke play if the ball is marked and replaced incorrectly. In match play, a ball marked and replaced incorrectly can result in the loss of a hole.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is a ball marker diameter?

There is no set limit to a ball marker’s diameter. The diameter of a golf ball marker is how wide it is across the face of the object. They should be small artificial objects like a coin or a similar thing. Poker chip-sized ball markers are popular now with a lot of golfers. Your ball marker should not be a distraction for your fellow golfer on the putting green.

What is a legal ball marker?

You can mark the ball on the green using a tee, a coin, a small object designed to be a ball marker or a small piece of equipment such as a divot tool. A ball marker is used to identify the position of a ball if the ball needs to be picked up. You can also place a golf club, typically a putter head, on the ground next to or behind the ball to mark it. You see this often when a player needs to move his marker out of the putting line of a competitor.

A tee is also acceptable but is typically used when not on the green. When the legal ball marker is placed and the ball is picked up, the player must replace the ball in its original spot.

A natural piece of material like a leaf or acorn is not a legal ball marker. A caddie may also mark the ball for a player without their authorization. A golfer must give specific approval for a fellow player to mark his ball.

Do golf ball markers have to be flat?

Golf ball markers do not have to be flat. A ball marker is used to mark the exact position of the ball when the ball is picked up for any reason. You can use a golf tee, a divot tool, the toe of your putter if it is on the ground, or other artificial objects to mark your golf ball.

Can you use a quarter as a ball marker?

Yes, you can use a quarter as a ball marker and smaller coins like a dime or nickel. Round, small objects are perfect to use as a ball marker because of their small size and low profiles on the putting surface.

Conclusion: Research by

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The rules of golf are not specific about what a ball marker may be beyond an artificial object and a piece of equipment carried by a golfer. Instead, they are detailed on how the ball marker is put into play. The failure to mark a ball and replace it properly can result in the loss of a stroke in medal play or the loss of a hole in match play, but in respect to the size, it a ball marker does not have to be round.

A player’s caddie can mark a golfer’s ball for him on the putting surface without authorization from the player. On the golf course, away from the green, players may have to mark their ball as well, and the same marking process is used. 

It’s essential to use a ball marker that does not distract your fellow golfers. Anything larger than a poker chip is too large to use if you want to play within the true spirit of the game.


Patrick Corley

From a golf scholarship to a Southern California University, to a private golf coaching career and an instructor position at a nonprofit organization, I’m here to help you get better at golf! With my 50+ years of golf experience; I bring you Tell Me More Golf. A golf coaching website that helps your game with instructional golfing content that’s ultimately geared toward making you a better golfer and having more fun!
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