Memory Aid: You Moved Your Ball Marker?

Foolproof aide-mémoire, patent pending.

You mark your ball on a putting green. Your coin is in another player’s line, so he asks you to move it one putter-head length to the side. When it’s your turn to putt, you have to remember to move your coin back before replacing your ball and making your own putt, because if you don’t you incur a penalty of two strokes (in stroke play) or loss of hole (in match play).  (See Rule 20-7.)

This actually happens. At the Crowne Plaza Invitational, back in May, Zach Johnson forgot to replace his coin on the final green and incurred a two-stroke penalty for putting from the wrong place. Luckily, he had a three-stroke lead, and someone noticed the mistake before he’d signed an incorrect card.

In a local tournament many years ago, an opponent of mine moved his marker at my request, then forgot to move it back. I noticed and reminded him before he putted—and he was as astonished as if I had handed him a thousand dollars. “You’d have won the hole if you’d let me putt,” he said, suggesting that he wouldn’t have done the same for me. Who would want to win a hole that way? Him, I guess.

There’s a foolproof way to remember that you, a partner, or an opponent has moved a marker: stick a tee in your nose and leave it there until the marker is back where it began. That’s what I do, anyway. (See photo above.)

Recently, my friend Rick and I played in a state senior tournament, and my tee-in-nose trick kept us out of trouble with Rule 20-7. The course was nice, too, although its address was even better. Here’s a picture of the street sign on the corner nearest the clubhouse:

Actually, it’s kind of amazing that the sign was still there. If I’d been forty years younger, I might have swiped it myself. (No penalty under the Rules of Golf, in either stroke play or match play.) My home club is on Golf Course Rd. Here’s what our street sign looks like:

I swear I’m not the one who took it.