Rule

9

Player's Edition
See Rules Of Golf
Ball Played as It Lies; Ball at Rest Lifted or Moved
Player's Edition
See Rules Of Golf
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9.1
a
b
9.2
a
b
9.3
9.4
a
b
9.5
9.6
9.7
a
b
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Rule 8
Rule 10

Purpose: Rule 9 covers a central principle of the game: "play the ball as it lies".

  • If your ball comes to rest and is then moved by natural forces such as wind or water, you normally must play it from its new spot.
  • If your ball at rest is lifted or moved by anyone or any outside influence before the stroke is made, your ball must be replaced on its original spot.
  • You should take care when near any ball at rest, and if you cause your own ball or your opponent's ball to move you will normally get a penalty (except on the putting green).
9.1
Ball Played as It Lies
a
Playing Your Ball from Where It Came to Rest

You must play your ball at rest on the course as it lies, except when the Rules require or allow you:

  • To play a ball from another place on the course, or
  • To lift a ball and then replace it on its original spot.
b
What to Do When Your Ball Moves During Backswing or Stroke

If your ball at rest begins moving after you have begun the stroke or the backswing for a stroke and you go on to make the stroke:

  • The ball must not be replaced, no matter what caused it to move.
  • Instead, you must play the ball from where it comes to rest after the stroke.
  • If you caused the ball to move, see Rule 9.4b to find out if there is a penalty.

Penalty for Playing Incorrectly Substituted Ball or Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Rule 9.1: General Penalty.

9.2
Deciding Whether Your Ball Moved and What Caused It to Move
a
Deciding Whether Your Ball Moved

Your ball at rest is treated as having moved only if it is known or virtually certain that it did.

If your ball might have moved but this is not known or virtually certain, it is treated as not having moved and you must play it as it lies.

b
Deciding What Caused Your Ball to Move

The Rules recognize only four possible causes for your ball at rest to move before you make a stroke:

  • Natural forces, such as wind or water,
  • You, including your caddie,
  • Your opponent in match play, including your opponent's caddie, or
  • An outside influence, including any other player in stroke play.

You, your opponent or an outside influence are treated as having caused the ball to move only if it is known or virtually certain to be the case. If not, the ball is treated as having been moved by natural forces.

9.3
Ball Moved by Natural Forces

If natural forces (such as wind or water) cause your ball at rest to move, there is no penalty, and your ball must be played from its new spot.

Exception - If your ball on the putting green moves after you have already lifted and replaced it, the ball must be replaced on its original spot (which if not known must be estimated).

Penalty for Playing Incorrectly Substituted Ball or Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Rule 9.3: General Penalty.

9.4
Ball Lifted or Moved by You
a
When Lifted or Moved Ball Must Be Replaced

If you or your caddie lift your ball at rest or cause it to move, your ball must be replaced on its original spot (which if not known must be estimated), except:

  • When you lift the ball under a Rule to take relief or to replace the ball on a different spot, or
  • When your ball moves only after you have started the stroke or the backswing for a stroke and then go on to make the stroke.
b
Penalty for Lifting or Deliberately Touching Your Ball or Causing It to Move

If you lift or deliberately touch your ball at rest or cause it to move, you get one penalty stroke.

But there are four exceptions where you get no penalty for doing so:

Exception 1 - When You are Allowed to Lift or Move Ball.

Exception 2 - Accidental Movement Before Ball Is Found.

Exception 3 - Accidental Movement on Putting Green.

Exception 4 - Accidental Movement Anywhere Except on Putting Green While Applying Rule.

See Full Rules For further explanation of these Exceptions.

Penalty for Playing Incorrectly Substituted Ball or Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Rule 9.4: General Penalty.

9.5
Ball Lifted or Moved by Your Opponent in Match Play

See Full Rules For information when your ball is lifted or moved by your opponent in match play.

9.6
Ball Lifted or Moved by Outside Influence

If it is known or virtually certain that an outside influence lifted or moved your ball there is no penalty. The ball must be replaced on its original spot (which if not known must be estimated).

Penalty for Playing Incorrectly Substituted Ball or Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Rule 9.6: General Penalty.

9.7
Ball-Marker Lifted or Moved
a
Ball or Ball-Marker Must Be Replaced

If your ball-marker is lifted or moved in any way (including by natural forces) before your ball is replaced, you must either:

  • Replace your ball on its original spot (which if not known must be estimated), or
  • Place a ball-marker to mark that original spot.
b
Penalty for Lifting Ball-Marker or Causing It to Move

Before your ball is replaced, if you lift your ball-marker or cause it to move, you get one penalty stroke. If your opponent does so, he or she gets one penalty stroke.

Exception - Rule 9.4b and Rule 9.5b Exceptions Apply to Lifting Ball-Marker or Causing It to Move

Penalty for Playing Incorrectly Substituted Ball or Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Rule 9.7: General Penalty.

Course

The entire area of play within the edge of any boundaries set by the Committee. The boundary edge extends both up above the ground and down below the ground.

Course

The entire area of play within the edge of any boundaries set by the Committee. The boundary edge extends both up above the ground and down below the ground.

Replace

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

Stroke

The forward movement of your club made to strike the ball.

Stroke

The forward movement of your club made to strike the ball.

Stroke

The forward movement of your club made to strike the ball.

Replace

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

Stroke

The forward movement of your club made to strike the ball.

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.

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.

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.

Known or Virtually Certain

The standard for deciding what happened to your ball - for example, whether your ball came to rest in a penalty area, whether it moved or what caused it to move.

Known or virtually certain means more than just possible or probable. It means that either:

  • There is conclusive evidence that the event in question happened to your ball, such as when you or other witnesses saw it happen, or
  • Although there is a very small degree of doubt, all reasonably available information shows that it is at least 95% likely that the event in question happened.
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.

Known or Virtually Certain

The standard for deciding what happened to your ball - for example, whether your ball came to rest in a penalty area, whether it moved or what caused it to move.

Known or virtually certain means more than just possible or probable. It means that either:

  • There is conclusive evidence that the event in question happened to your ball, such as when you or other witnesses saw it happen, or
  • Although there is a very small degree of doubt, all reasonably available information shows that it is at least 95% likely that the event in question happened.
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.

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.

Stroke

The forward movement of your club made to strike the ball.

Natural Forces

The effects of nature such as wind, water or when something happens for no apparent reason because of the effects of gravity.

Caddie

Someone who helps you during a round to carry, transport or handle your clubs and/or give you advice. A caddie may also help you in other ways allowed by the Rules (see Rule 10.3b).

Opponent

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

Match Play

A form of play where you or your side plays directly against an opponent or opposing side in a head-to-head match of one or more rounds.

Opponent

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

Caddie

Someone who helps you during a round to carry, transport or handle your clubs and/or give you advice. A caddie may also help you in other ways allowed by the Rules (see Rule 10.3b).

Outside Influence

Any of these people or things that can affect what happens to your ball or equipment or to the course:

  • Any person (including another player), except you or your caddie or your partner or opponent or any of their caddies,
  • Any animal, and
  • Any natural or artificial object or anything else (including another ball in motion), except for natural forces.
Stroke Play

A form of play where you or your side competes against all other players or sides in the competition.

Opponent

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

Outside Influence

Any of these people or things that can affect what happens to your ball or equipment or to the course:

  • Any person (including another player), except you or your caddie or your partner or opponent or any of their caddies,
  • Any animal, and
  • Any natural or artificial object or anything else (including another ball in motion), except for natural forces.
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.

Known or Virtually Certain

The standard for deciding what happened to your ball - for example, whether your ball came to rest in a penalty area, whether it moved or what caused it to move.

Known or virtually certain means more than just possible or probable. It means that either:

  • There is conclusive evidence that the event in question happened to your ball, such as when you or other witnesses saw it happen, or
  • Although there is a very small degree of doubt, all reasonably available information shows that it is at least 95% likely that the event in question happened.
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.

Natural Forces

The effects of nature such as wind, water or when something happens for no apparent reason because of the effects of gravity.

Natural Forces

The effects of nature such as wind, water or when something happens for no apparent reason because of the effects of gravity.

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.

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).

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.

Replace

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

Replace

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

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.

General Penalty

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

Caddie

Someone who helps you during a round to carry, transport or handle your clubs and/or give you advice. A caddie may also help you in other ways allowed by the Rules (see Rule 10.3b).

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.

Replace

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

Replace

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

Stroke

The forward movement of your club made to strike the ball.

Stroke

The forward movement of your club made to strike the ball.

Stroke

The forward movement of your club made to strike the ball.

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.

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.

General Penalty

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

Known or Virtually Certain

The standard for deciding what happened to your ball - for example, whether your ball came to rest in a penalty area, whether it moved or what caused it to move.

Known or virtually certain means more than just possible or probable. It means that either:

  • There is conclusive evidence that the event in question happened to your ball, such as when you or other witnesses saw it happen, or
  • Although there is a very small degree of doubt, all reasonably available information shows that it is at least 95% likely that the event in question happened.
Outside Influence

Any of these people or things that can affect what happens to your ball or equipment or to the course:

  • Any person (including another player), except you or your caddie or your partner or opponent or any of their caddies,
  • Any animal, and
  • Any natural or artificial object or anything else (including another ball in motion), except for natural forces.
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.

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.

General Penalty

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

Ball-Marker

An artificial object when used to mark the spot of your ball to be lifted, such as a tee, a coin, an object made to be a ball-marker or another small piece of equipment.

Natural Forces

The effects of nature such as wind, water or when something happens for no apparent reason because of the effects of gravity.

Replace

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

Replace

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

Ball-Marker

An artificial object when used to mark the spot of your ball to be lifted, such as a tee, a coin, an object made to be a ball-marker or another small piece of equipment.

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.

Replace

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

Ball-Marker

An artificial object when used to mark the spot of your ball to be lifted, such as a tee, a coin, an object made to be a ball-marker or another small piece of equipment.

Opponent

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

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.

General Penalty

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