Rule of the Month: Is it Mine? | Oregon Golf Association

Rule of the Month: Is it Mine?

By OGA Senior Rules Officials: Pete Scholz and Terry McEvilly
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Rule 12-2.  Lifting Ball for Identification

With the spring rapidly approaching and the grass and bushes growing faster than the greens keepers can keep up with, it is important to know how to search and identify a ball.  Last month we covered permissible searching actions.  This month we focus on the procedure when a ball is found but the player is unable to identify it.  Rule 12-2 is only a few sentences long but describes in detail what the player must do to avoid penalty when identifying his ball.  However, Rule 12-1 also permits certain procedures in very specific circumstances.  Applying both Rules will help prevent a player from playing a wrong ball or incurring a penalty when attempting to find and identify a ball.

Questions:  True/False

  1. A player is required to have either an opponent or fellow-competitor witness the lifting and replacement of a ball lifted for identification.
  2. The location of the ball must be marked prior to lifting it for identification.
  3. A ball the player believes is hers, is slightly visible under a leaf in a bunker.  She must not remove the leaf to identify her ball.
  4. A ball lifted for identification may always be cleaned.
  5. If a ball may be identified without lifting it, it must not be lifted unless another Rule applies that allows the player to lift the ball.
  6. A player desiring to lift his ball to identify it must announce his intention to do so to his opponent or fellow-competitor.
  7. A player finds a ball in deep rough and, without announcing his intention and without marking the location of the ball, he lifts it.  He incurs a total of two penalty strokes.  One for failure to announce his intentions and one for failing to mark the position of the ball.
  8. Once a ball is found, grass around the ball must not be moved to identify it.  The player must proceed under the procedure outlined under Rule 12-2.
  9. When a ball is lifted from a bunker for identification, if the lie of the ball is altered it must be re-created when replacing the ball. 
  10. A player may identify her ball by the brand and number only. 



  1.  False.  An opponent or fellow-competitor must be given the opportunity to witness the lifting and replacement but there is no requirement that they must witness the action (Rule 12-2).
  2. True.  Even if other players are present to witness the lifting and replacement, the location of the ball must be physically marked prior to lifting it (Rule 12-2).
  3. False.  Rule 12-1b gives the player permission to lift loose impediments in a bunker in order to find or identify a ball.  If the ball is hers, she must replace the leaf prior to playing her next stroke.
  4. False.  When a ball has been lifted for identification under Rule 12-2 it may be cleaned only to the extent necessary for the identification. 
  5. True.  Rule 12-2 is not without restrictions.  The player must have good reason to lift the ball for identification or he incurs a one-stroke penalty and must replace the ball. 
  6. True.  Failure to announce his intentions to lift would result in the player incurring a one-stroke penalty under Rule 12-2.
  7. False.  Rule 12-2 says in part “if he fails to comply with all or any part of this procedure… he incurs a penalty of one stroke”.  Therefore, even though the Rule has been breached more than once, the player incurs only a one-stroke penalty provided the ball is his.   
  8. False.  While Rule 12-2 does provide a method for the player to identify his ball, he may also move the grass or bushes under Rule 12-1 provided the lie, area of intended stance, swing or line of play is not improved (Rule 13-2) and the ball is not moved (Rule 18-2). 
  9. True.  Under Rule 20-3b iii, if the lie of the ball to be replaced in a bunker is altered, the lie must be re-created. 
  10. True.  There is no requirement that the player put an identification mark on her ball.  It is recommended twice in the Rules but is only a strong suggestion.  If a player is unable to identify her ball because another ball of the same brand and number is found in the area and it’s impossible to determine with certainty which ball is hers, she must proceed under Rule 27 for a lost ball. 

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