The R&A - Working for Golf
Rule

7

Player's Edition
See Rules Of Golf
Ball Search: Finding and Identifying Ball
Player's Edition
See Rules Of Golf
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7.1
a
b
7.2
7.3
7.4
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Rule 6
Rule 8

Purpose: Rule 7 allows you to take reasonable actions to fairly search for your ball in play after each stroke.

  • But you must be careful, as a penalty will apply if you act excessively and cause improvement to the conditions affecting your next stroke.
  • You get no penalty if your ball is accidentally moved in trying to find or identify it, but you must then replace the ball on its original spot.
7.1
How to Fairly Search for Ball
a
You May Take Reasonable Actions to Find and Identify Ball

You may fairly search for the ball by taking reasonable actions to find and identify it, such as:

  • Moving sand and water, and
  • Moving or bending grass, bushes, tree branches and other growing or attached natural objects, and also breaking such objects, but only if such breaking is a result of other reasonable actions taken to find or identify the ball.

If taking such reasonable actions as part of a fair search improves the conditions affecting the stroke there is no penalty. But if the improvement results from actions that exceeded what was reasonable for a fair search, you get the general penalty.

b
What to Do If Sand Affecting Lie of Your Ball Is Moved While Trying to Find or Identify It

You must re-create the original lie in the sand, but may leave a small part of the ball visible if the ball had been covered by sand.

If you play the ball without having re-created the original lie, you get the general penalty.

7.2
How to Identify Your Ball

You may identify your ball by seeing it come to rest or seeing your identifying mark on the ball.

See Full Rules For more information on how your ball may be identified.

7.3
Lifting Your Ball to Identify It

If a ball might be yours but you cannot identify it as it lies, you may lift the ball to identify it. But the spot of the ball must first be marked, and the ball must not be cleaned more than needed to identify it (except on the putting green).

If the lifted ball is your ball or another player's ball, it must be replaced on its original spot.

If you lift your ball when not reasonably necessary to identify it, fail to mark the spot of the ball before lifting it or clean it when not allowed, you get one penalty stroke.

Penalty for Playing Incorrectly Substituted Ball or Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Rule 7.3: General Penalty.

7.4
Ball Accidentally Moved in Trying to Find or Identify It

There is no penalty if your ball is accidentally moved by you, your opponent or anyone else while trying to find or identify it.

If this happens, the ball must be replaced on its original spot (which if not known must be estimated). In doing so:

  • If the ball was on, under or against any immovable obstruction, integral object, boundary object or growing or attached natural object, the ball must be replaced on its original spot on, under or against such object.
  • If the ball was covered by sand, the original lie must be re-created and the ball must be replaced in that lie. You may leave a small part of the ball visible if the ball had been covered by sand.

Penalty for Breach of Rule 7.4: General Penalty.

Improve

To alter one or more of the conditions affecting your stroke or other physical conditions affecting your play so that you gain a potential advantage for your stroke.

Conditions Affecting the Stroke

The lie of your ball at rest, the area of your intended stance, the area of your intended swing, your line of play and the relief area where you will drop or place a ball.

Improve

To alter one or more of the conditions affecting your stroke or other physical conditions affecting your play so that you gain a potential advantage for your stroke.

General Penalty

Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play.

General Penalty

Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play.

Lie

The spot on which your ball is at rest and any growing or attached natural object, immovable obstruction, integral object, or boundary object touching your ball or right next to it. Loose impediments and movable obstructions are not part of the lie of a ball.

Lie

The spot on which your ball is at rest and any growing or attached natural object, immovable obstruction, integral object, or boundary object touching your ball or right next to it. Loose impediments and movable obstructions are not part of the lie of a ball.

General Penalty

Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play.

Mark

To show the spot where a ball is at rest by either placing a ball-marker right behind or right next to the ball, or holding a club on the ground right behind or right next to the ball.

Putting Green

The area on the hole you are playing that is specially prepared for putting, or the Committee has defined as the putting green (such as when a temporary green is used).

Replace

To place a ball by setting it down and letting it go, with the intent for it to be in play.

Mark

To show the spot where a ball is at rest by either placing a ball-marker right behind or right next to the ball, or holding a club on the ground right behind or right next to the ball.

Substitute

To change the ball you are using to play a hole by having another ball become your ball in play.

Wrong Place

Any place on the course other than where you are required or allowed to play your ball under the Rules.

Wrong Place

Any place on the course other than where you are required or allowed to play your ball under the Rules.

General Penalty

Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play.

Moved

When your ball at rest has left its original spot and come to rest on any other spot, and this can be seen by the naked eye (whether or not anyone actually sees it do so).

This applies whether your ball has gone up, down or horizontally in any direction away from its original spot.

If your ball only wobbles (sometimes referred to as oscillating) and stays on or returns to its original spot, your ball has not moved.

Opponent

The person you compete against in a match. The term opponent applies only in match play.

Replace

To place a ball by setting it down and letting it go, with the intent for it to be in play.

Immovable Obstruction

Any obstruction that cannot be moved without unreasonable effort or without damaging the obstruction or the course, and otherwise does not meet the definition of a movable obstruction.

Integral Object

An artificial object defined by the Committee as part of the challenge of playing the course from which free relief is not allowed.

Artificial objects defined by the Committee as integral objects are treated as immovable (see Rule 8.1a). But if part of an integral object (such as a gate or door or part of an attached cable) meets the definition of movable obstruction, that part is treated as a movable obstruction.

Integral objects are not obstructions or boundary objects.

Boundary Object

Artificial objects defining or showing out of bounds, such as walls, fences, stakes and railings, from which free relief is not allowed.

This includes any base and post of a boundary fence, but does not include angled supports or guy wires that are attached to a wall or fence, or any steps, bridge or similar construction used for getting over the wall or fence.

Boundary objects are treated as immovable even if they are movable or any part of them is movable (see Rule 8.1a).

Boundary objects are not obstructions or integral objects.

Replace

To place a ball by setting it down and letting it go, with the intent for it to be in play.

Lie

The spot on which your ball is at rest and any growing or attached natural object, immovable obstruction, integral object, or boundary object touching your ball or right next to it. Loose impediments and movable obstructions are not part of the lie of a ball.

Replace

To place a ball by setting it down and letting it go, with the intent for it to be in play.

Lie

The spot on which your ball is at rest and any growing or attached natural object, immovable obstruction, integral object, or boundary object touching your ball or right next to it. Loose impediments and movable obstructions are not part of the lie of a ball.

General Penalty

Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play.