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Why Sharpies?
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!

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