Rules of Golf: Ball At Rest Moved During Search

Golf Monthly's Jeremy Ellwood discusses the penalties under Rule 18 if your ball at rest is moved with The R&A's Shona McRae

Rules of golf ball at rest moved
(Image credit: Kenny Smith 07809 450119)

Golf Monthly rules guru Jeremy Ellwood explains what to do if you accidentally do something to cause your ball to move while searching for it - in this rules of golf ball at rest moved video.

Rules of golf ball at rest moved 

At some stage in most rounds you will find yourself looking for your ball somewhere on the golf course. But what happens if you move your ball by accident when searching for it by treading on it, kicking it accidentally with your foot or hitting it with a club as you probe for it in the long grass?

Under the pre-2019 version of the rules of golf you would have been penalised for accidentally moving your own ball during a search. The problem was that golfers, knowing this, might not look for their own ball quite as vigorously as they otherwise would, as there would have been no penalty to them if other players in their group moved it while searching.

Thankfully, under the current, updated version of the rules you are no longer penalised for moving your ball while searching for it. It is important to note here that this only relates to when you are searching for your ball – there is still a penalty if you accidentally move your ball in the general area, penalty areas or bunkers while not searching.

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Photo: Kenny smith

Whenever this occurs, the one thing you must then do is replace the ball in its original spot before playing your next shot. If you don't know exactly the original position of the ball, you must return it to where you think the ball was.

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You can then play on without penalty!

Watch more GM Rules videos: Check out when you do and don't get relief for an embedded ball...

One other thing worth mentioning is that if you have moved your ball while searching for it in a bunker, or elsewhere where sand has covered the ball (e.g. a sandy waste area), you should try to recreate the original lie as closely as possible – albeit you are allowed to leave a small amount of the ball showing so you can see it for your next shot.

Hopefully this rules of golf ball at rest moved during search video explains exactly what you should do to avoid penalties and keep your score in tact for the rest of the round!




Jeremy Ellwood
Contributing Editor

Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly. He is an expert on the Rules of Golf having qualified through an R&A course to become a golf referee. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 91 of the Next 100, making him well-qualified when it comes to assessing and comparing our premier golf courses. He has now played 1,000 golf courses worldwide in 35 countries, from the humblest of nine-holers in the Scottish Highlands to the very grandest of international golf resorts. He reached the 1,000 mark on his 60th birthday in October 2023 on Vale do Lobo's Ocean course. Put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content.

Jezz can be contacted via Twitter - @JezzEllwoodGolf

Jeremy is currently playing...

Driver: Ping G425 LST 10.5˚ (draw setting), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 55 S shaft

3 wood: Ping G425 Max 15˚ (set to flat +1), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 65 S shaft

Hybrid: Ping G425 17˚, Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Orange 80 S shaft

Irons 3-PW: Ping i525, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

Wedges: Ping Glide 4.0 50˚ and 54˚, 12˚ bounce, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

Putter: Ping Fetch 2021 model, 33in shaft (set flat 2)

Ball: Varies but mostly now TaylorMade Tour Response