by Ben Hongo, PGA
Senior Teaching Professional
Kapalua Golf Academy
Have you ever wondered why all PGA Tour players mark their
balls with a colored marker pen? Some players, like Duffy Waldorf, get very creative
with their balls; others put a single dot underneath the number. There are two
rules that make marking your ball an important part of playing the game.
Rule 27 states that if a player does not
identify his ball within five minutes after beginning to search,
the player incurs a stroke and distance penalty. "Identify"
is a big word in this case. Let's say players A and B tee
off, both their balls find the middle of the fairway and lie
right next to each other. Both are playing Titleist Professional
100 with #2 marking. Since they are playing identical balls
neither player can positively identify his ball so both must
deem their balls lost under Rule 27.
Another reason to mark your ball is to keep
from hitting the wrong ball. Under Rule 15, if a player hits
a wrong ball, he incurs a penalty of two strokes and must
correct his mistake by playing the correct ball. If the player
does not correct his mistake before playing a stroke from
the next teeing ground, he is disqualified. In the 2000 Maui
Open, our own PGA Head Professionals, Jerry Pang-Ching and
David Pritchett, were disqualified for playing each other's
balls on the 2nd hole. On the 3rd fairway Jerry noticed he
was playing a ball with the wrong number, at that point, because
their balls had landed so far from each other, they had to
assume the mistake happened on the prior hole.
All golfers should mark their golf balls to prevent the penalties
of Rules 15 and 27. Stay organized and have fun!