Rule of the Week
Dec. 3/2019

We recently received a Rules inquiry about substituting a ball on the putting surface from a reader.

"I have seen golfers use a different golf ball on the greens; is this allowed? He asked.

ANSWER: No. You may not substitute a ball on the putting green unless your ball is cut, cracked or out of shape (see Rule 4.2c(2)).

Rule 4-2 The Ball:

Rule 4-2 c. Ball Becomes Cut or Cracked While Playing Hole

(2) When Another Ball May Be SubstitutedThe player may only substitute another ball if it can be clearly seen that the original ball is cut or cracked and this damage happened during the hole being played - but not if it is only scratched or scraped or its paint is only damaged or discoloured.

  • If the original ball is cut or cracked, the player must replace either another ball or the original ball on the original spot (see Rule 14.2).
  • If the original ball is not cut or cracked, the player must replace it on its original spot (see Rule 14.2).
Nothing in this Rule prohibits a player from  substituting another ball under any other Rule or changing balls between two holes.

Penalty for Playing Incorrectly  Substituted  Ball or Playing Ball from a  Wrong Place  in Breach of Rule 4.2c:  General Penalty  Under  Rule 6.3b  or  14.7a .

Therefore, if a player on the putting green changes her/his ball to their "lucky ball," it will cost them the general penalty (two strokes) in match play. Therefore, it is not recommended they do such an action.

Have a Rules of Golf question? Send it to and we will use it for a future feature.

Happy golfing and remember the Rules of Golf matter!
About Golf Saskatchewan
As the governing body of amateur golf in Saskatchewan, our mission is to grow participation in, and passion for golf while upholding the integrity of the game.


Golf Saskatchewan
510 Cynthia St
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7L 7K7
Golf Saskatchewan
(306) 975-0850

Authored by Brian Lee, Executive Director of Golf SK

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