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How to Mark Your Golf Ball – Using a Ball Marker and Sharpie Marker Drawings together

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Marking your golf ball with a ball marker

Marking your golf ball refers to placing ball markers on the ground to help highlight the ball’s position while lifting it. It can also refer to drawing or writing on the ball for identification purposes. In this article, we will discuss both how to mark your golf ball and how you can use them hand in hand to help your golf putting game drastically!

When is marking a golf ball allowed?

an example of how to mark your golf ball
18th Hole at SeaScape Golf Club in OuterBanks, NC.

You are allowed to mark your golf ball (pick it up and clean it) when the ball is on the putting surface green. This allows you to read the golf green and get a putting line. The golf ball is ruled to be on the putting surface green when any part of the golf ball touches the putting surface or edge of the putting surface. Even 1 blade of grass! Once you’ve finally determined that your golf ball is right there on the green, you may now start marking the golf ball. 

How to mark your golf ball?

To mark your golf ball, you will need to place the marker directly behind the ball. It is extremely important to place the marker behind the ball and not in front of the golf ball.

What can be used as a ball marker?

What’s commonly used as a ball marker is a coin. However, some notable alternatives include any accessible object that can help you spot the ball. For example, it is not uncommon for players to use poker chips, alignment aids, or tee pegs. But keep in mind that whichever object you opt for must help you return the ball to the exact location as it was before. Also, it must not be affected by any elements known to disrupt gameplay (ex. Leaves that can be blown around by the wind, etc). While etiquette is the key factor, having something excessively distracting is still not ideal, like golf shoes

Why should you mark your golf ball?

Why should you do it? As I’ve mentioned earlier, we mark golf balls so we can pick them back up, clean them off, and line them up before putting them again. This will ultimately give you the best opportunity of ultimately holing the putt. You as a golf want to do this because it give you the best advantage and keeps your golf game looking sharp!

What if my ball marker will be in the way of other golfers putting line?

If your ball marker is in the way, you are permitted to change its position by rule. But to do so, you need to pick a spot left or right (directly in line with the flagstick) and use your putter head to measure 1 putter head spot over and mark your ball.  The width or the length of each putter head should work. You can do this process multiple times if 1 putter head length is not enough. Then, once your opponent is through taking a strike, reverse the entire process, returning the ball to its original spot. If you need a golf putter, we have the best golf putters under $200 here!

What is the wrong way to mark your golf ball?

There are ways to mark your golf ball wrong. If you lift your ball without marking the spot properly, you’ll receive a one-stroke penalty.

Which side of the golf ball should I put the ball marker?

The side furthest from the hole (the back). If you mark the golf ball on the side or front, and do not replace the ball back in its original spot. There is a tricky technique where a golfer will mark his/her ball on the side, read the break, and replace the ball back on the other side of the marker taking out some of the break. No need to pay attention to this or call this out unless you are playing for big money stakes.

And if you fail to return the ball to the exact spot when you marked it, you’ll receive a general penalty – and that will be two strokes and a loss of hole in match play.

But what if you do it wrong? Remember, the game rules changed in 2019 and gave much more leniency on the putting greens. Interestingly, there are no penalties for accidentally causing your golf ball or the ball marker to move while playing. However, you must return the ball marker or the golf ball to its original spot before taking another swing.

Marking the golf ball with a sharpie for identification

The other type of marking the golf ball is drawing on it with a sharpie. This will allow you to identify your ball in the event that someone is hitting the same golf ball and number as you. Let’s share with you some clever ways of marking golf balls. Doing it right can help improve your focus, swing, and your putting.

Nothing should stop you from marking your golf ball while playing. Most golfers tend to assume the only way to mark a ball is by using a line, and if that’s not readily available, they ditch the markings altogether. If you do this too, that needs to stop.

What options do I have for drawing on my golf ball?

Marking your ball using a line isn’t your only option. You can use stencils to make drawings or color all over the golf ball. There is really nothing you cannot do as long as you are able to identify it is your golf ball. Most manufacturers add numbers to their balls, enabling you to spot your ball when playing with opponents who own the same brand. First, check to see if no one’s using the same number.

Customized golf ball stamp

Customized golf ball stamps let you mark your ball with a marking you can personalize for easier identification. In addition, these stamps have permanent ink, which lets them create a waterproof imprint on your ball.

Permanent markers for golf balls

Permanent markers remain the most flexible option. They are available in various sizes but can still fit in your golf bag.

Stencils for golf balls

Stencils are useful for the less artistic group of golfers that want to spice up their golf ball game.

Stickers for golf balls

Stickers are more of a gimmick that tend to not stick very well and will fall off. We do not recommend these.

The Quiet Eye golf ball drawing or marking

Have you ever heard of “quiet-eye”? This concept highlights that better players focus more on the golf ball than higher handicappers who are known to look at different spots on the golf ball. A study from Science daily shows how golfers should putt with the quiet eye. The quiet eye technique is good for focusing more on every part of the ball you are playing, especially when standing over it. The dot option is almost always known to do the trick.

The Steps:

1.  Put a dot on all sides of the ball

First, always treat your ball like it’s a dice. Place a dot on each of the six sides of the ball. Doing that automatically gives you lots of options to pick from, and it also means you’re most likely going to have the ball facing you when it is in the fairway.

2.  Bottom left and closer to the tee

When you are on a tee, place a dot down towards the ground and on the left side of the particular tee, which makes the dot closer to you. By spotting the dot and focusing on that specific spot, you’re gaining a subconscious visual cue that will systematically help your swing path through the ball.

3.  Keep your eyes on them all at all times.

Your goal is to focus more on the dot. When you place the ball down with the dot on it located on the left of the tee you’re playing with, it will ultimately have the effect of tilting the torso (the upper part of your body) away from the ball, which is a crucial setup key with your driver. 

Golf Pro Examples:

The pros do hit the ball offline too. Just like amateurs, they have to identify their balls while playing. But you’ve got access to the same tools too. Here are some ideas to jot down to help improve your overall gameplay.

  • Victor Hovland

Viktor Hovland is regarded as one of the rising talents on the PGA Tour. He keeps the marking of the golf ball rather simple and basic. He’ll draw a short line on the golf ball – he uses these lines for alignment on the putting green.

  • Jordan Spieth

To increase his overall concentration, Jordan marks his ball with a “Z-like” sign as a reminder he must, in his own words, zero in on his target. However, he doesn’t have an alignment mark for putting.

Jordan Spieth uses the number present on the ball in the opposite direction more than it is numbered. The golf balls marked as a four are used in round one. It then decreases as the rounds sum up. The number one marked on the ball is used in the tournament’s fourth round.

  • Lous Oosthuizen

Louis Oosthuizen is a major winner who’s known to use the initials of his family members as markings on his golf ball. He says he loves to look down on the plain white surface of the ball when playing. Hence, he places his golf balls with the markings facing south (down) and to the sides.

  • Bubba Watson

Bubba supports breast cancer, hence why he plays using a pink driver. Not just a pink driver, but a pink pen too. He uses the pink pen to draw a circle next to the ball’s number and the stamp on the golf ball’s side.


About the Author


How we got onto 16 with a 5 minute wait at the WM Phoenix Open!

How I got on hole 16 (The Stadium hole) at the Waste Management Phoenix Open with little to no wait!! I also have tips and tricks on what to do once you are inside the gate and inside the stadium hole. Check this out if you ever plan to make a trip out! If you ever have the chance, it is definitely worth the trip.

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