Can You Change Golf Balls on the Green?


Golf is a competitive sport, and with so many rules and regulations, it can get a little complicated, too. If you’re thinking can you change golf balls on the green, here’s a short answer:

Fortunately, you can change golf balls on the green. See, a golf ball may not last for a full game. They can get split, cracked, and damaged. According to the rules, golfers are allowed to change golf balls at several points during a round. And, under normal conditions, golfers can change their golf balls in between holes.

But, what if you do change a golf ball on the green? Is there any penalty for that? Do you use a new golf ball for every hole? Can you use different balls in a single round?

You might want to get the answers to those questions.

Let’s dig in a little deeper.

Can You Change Golf Balls on the Green?

Yes, you can change golf balls on the green, but there are a few rules. You can’t switch your golf ball any time you want. The rules allow you to change it when you’re switching a hole. You can also replace a ball when you’re taking a break (for instance, free and penalty relief).

golf ball on green golf

Keep in mind that the replaced ball can be of any brand as far as the one-ball local rule isn’t in effect. Also, remember that if you switch your ball before completing a hole, you might even get disqualified, or at the very least,  suffer a penalty.

Moreover, you can switch your golf ball when you’re taking relief. But, if you’re playing a round, and your ball gets a little damaged, you’ll have to continue with the play. Unless, of course, the ball is unplayable; in such a case, you can get it replaced even between holes.

Is There a Penalty for Hitting a Different Ball on the Green?

When a ball is played from off the putting green and moves another ball, you don’t get a penalty. But, it’s a different situation when a ball is played from the putting green. In such a case, if a ball hits another ball on the putting green, the golfer faces a penalty of two strokes.

Do You Use a New Golf Ball for Each Hole?

No, pro golfers don’t use a new golf ball for every hole. The average number of holes after which pro golfers change their golf ball is 5 or 6. This is because the golf balls made today are of durable material. They can take a few strokes before getting damaged.

Can You Use Different Balls in a Round?

Whether or not you can use different balls in a round will generally depend on the local rules. So, during a round, golfers are normally allowed to change their balls as long as there is no local rule against it. Plus, the model and maker of the balls don’t need to be the same either. However, the local one-ball rule in golfing doesn’t allow this practice. So, you might want to get in touch with the local management to make sure.

What Happens If You Run Out of Golf Balls?

Running out of golf balls is rare, but it can happen. If you run out of golf balls during a game, you can borrow one from a fellow golfer or another player. This also includes the X-out ball or practice ball. But, keep in mind that you’ll lose a hole in match play if you play the wrong ball. And, in case you’re in stroke play, you’ll get a two-stroke penalty.

How Many Golf Balls Can You Keep In Your Bag?

Generally, there’s no rule that can prevent you from keeping any number of golf balls in your bag. This means you can keep as many balls as you need or want. In fact, the more the better; this way, you won’t have to worry about lost or damaged balls and can continue the game with peace of mind. Usually, PGA tour players keep an average of nine golf balls in their bags. The number might also depend on how many your caddie can carry at a time.

Why Don’t Golfers Use Colored Balls?

Colored balls would be tough to spot on a golf course. They won’t make the game any easier for the golfers. The white color is easily seen, so professional golf tournaments use white golf balls all around the world. Pro golfers need to see where their balls land; white golf balls make the task easier.

Colorful golf balls in a basket

However, it’s not like pros only use white balls; yellow balls have also been used in some instances depending on the ground situation. For instance, think about how hard a white ball would be to spot in the snow.

Can Caddies Tough Golf Balls?

The duty of a caddie is to carry a golfer’s golf bag while they play their game. They’re also responsible to hand over the requested clubs during play. Caddies aren’t generally allowed to touch the balls until and unless they’re instructed to do so.

Final Thoughts

So, the question “can you change golf balls on the green” doesn’t have a single-word answer. It depends on where you are in the game, and what local rules you have to follow as a player.

The good thing is golf rules only prohibit you from changing your golf ball in certain situations. For instance, you’re not allowed to change it during a hole. But, you can always change your ball if it gets damaged to an extent that it’s unplayable.

Moreover, you can change your golf ball in between holes, or when you’re taking relief. So, the rules around changing your golf ball on the green are flexible and player-friendly. But, keep in mind that you can get penalized and even disqualified if you intentionally break any of the rules.

Sourav Biswas

I love to play golf. I also enjoy writing about my golf experience and sharing my thoughts with you. I am a writer and editor who also publishes work on Amazon & Medium. I write books, articles, and short stories.

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