Don’t mention the ball.
We have all been in the situation when chipping or putting from off the green and another players golf ball lies somewhere near the hole, and which may provide a useful back stop. But what if your partner or opponent goes to mark the ball, can you request them to leave it as it lies? Can your partner suggest that they will leave it there for that very purpose? Well, no.
It turns out, that the ball can be left as a potential back stop provided no one mentions why it was left there.
It is one of those quirks in the rules of golf that just seems ridiculous. You cannot request to have the ball left there, nor can your partner suggest they will leave it there for your benefit – the penalty if the intent is uttered, disqualification for both of you.
Rule 22-1 covers this specifically states:
In stroke play, if the Committee determines that competitors have agreed not to lift a ball that might assist any competitor, they are disqualified.
Decision 22/6 goes further to state:
Q: In stroke play, B’s ball lies just off the putting green. A’s ball lies near the hole in a position to serve as a backstop for B’s ball. B requests A not to lift his ball. Is such a request proper?
A: No. If A and B agree not to lift a ball that might assist B, both players are disqualified under Rule 22-1.
From my conversation with a few golfers over the past few months, I’m guessing a lot of people don’t know this, so spread the word on the weekend and remember, don’t mention the ball.
Barry Rhodes is the guru on golf rules and he recently went through the ruling in much greater detail, check it out if you need further clarification.