What Is a Golf Ball Marker? — (Types of Ball Markers, Usage, and Rules)

what is a golf ball marker written by our tell me more golf expert instructors with types of ball markers

You see golfers on every level marking their golf balls on the putting greens. You might wonder what a golf ball marker is.

Golfers use a marker on the putting green so they can mark their spot to putt, but also allow other golfers a chance to putt towards the hole without their physical ball being in the way. It is a very common courtesy for golfers to mark their ball on the green before putting.

Does it have to be a specific size and shape? Or, how do you use a golf ball marker?

The Tell Me More Golf pros will explain what a golf ball marker is and when and how to use them correctly during your next round of golf, from the greens to the rough.

what is a golf ball marker written by our tell me more golf expert instructors with types of ball markers

Types Of Ball Markers – Usage

Golfers have many options for the type of ball markers they use on the golf course.

When golfers are on the putting green, they commonly use smaller, coin-shaped ball markers that are discreet and don’t interfere with or distract their playing partners. 

Golfers who need to mark their golf ball on the golf course, in the fairway to lift, clean, and replace their ball, or when making a drop often use a golf tee or divot tool as their ball marker.

Here are some of the more common types of ball markers:

  • Small Coin
  • Divot Tool
  • Golf Tee
  • Magnetic Ball Marker
  • Poker Chip

On the greens, for proper golf etiquette, it’s best to use a discrete ball marker that’s not a distraction for your playing partners.


According to the USGA, you must mark your ball with a ball marker. The ball marker must be an artificial object like a tee or coin or pieces of equipment like a tee or a divot tool.

When marking, you must place the ball marker behind or on either side of the golf ball. You get a one-stroke penalty if you lift the ball without marking the original spot properly before putting the ball back into play.

Your caddie can lift your golf ball on the putting green without your authorization.

However, anyone else to lift your ball must do so with your permission each time before lifting it.


How Do You Use A Golf Ball Marker?

You use a golf ball marker when you need to designate the original spot the ball was sitting on when you have to pick it up or mark the location for a drop.

Golfers often use a golf ball marker on the greens to mark the ball as they get their golf ball alignment ready for their putt.

In the fairway, if golfers are playing, lift clean and place, or from other sites, if they have to mark for relief or a drop, golfers will also need to use a golf ball marker.

The rules of golf say there’s a one-stroke penalty if you spot the ball improperly or take a stroke with the ball marker still in place.

Do You Need A Golf Ball Marker?

While you don’t need a proper golf ball marker, you will need to use an artificial item for golf ball marking. On the greens, it’s a good idea to use a flat object that’s not distracting to the people in your foursome.

You’ll need to be able to mark your ball from the fairway and in the rough when you’re marking your ball for any reason. For example, most golfers use golf tees to mark their golf balls when off of the putting greens.

FAQ Section

How do you use a golf ball marker?

You use a golf ball marker to mark the golf ball’s original spot before you pick the ball up. Or, you use a golf ball marker like a tee to mark the location where you can drop the ball to take relief.

Why do golfers mark their balls with a Sharpie?

Golfers mark their golf balls with a Sharpie for identification purposes. Because many golfers play the same type of golf balls, like Titleist or Callaway, golfers can have a distinct mark on their balls to identify them more easily.

Golfers will also use a Sharpie and an alignment tool like a triple track to put aiming lines on the golf ball to help them line up their putts.

Some golfers will also use a golf ball stamp to imprint a logo on their golf balls for identification and sometimes marketing purposes.

Do pro golfers use golf ball markers?

Yes, golf pro golfers use golf ball markers in both practice rounds and golf tournaments. Most golfers on the PGA tour use coins to mark their golf balls on the green.

Conclusion: Research by Tellmemoregolf.com

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A golf ball marker is a small, important piece of golf equipment in your bag. You’ll need to use one to mark the original spot of your ball if you need to pick it up for any reason.

A golf ball marker doesn’t have to be a coin. It can be any small artificial object, or small pieces of equipment like a golf tee or divot tool.

You must mark the ball directly behind or next to its location before picking up the golf ball and replacing it. You must also pick up the ball mark before taking your next stroke. Failure to mark your ball correctly can result in a one-stroke penalty.

Golf etiquette suggests you use a small, flat object like a coin when marking the ball on the putting surface so it’s not distracting your playing partners.

A golf ball marker is a great way to flash some of your style on the golf course, so grab that lucky coin and get out there and play!


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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