Is It OK to Draw Line on Golf Ball to Help With Alignment?

Golfer marking his ball
Jamie Donaldson of Wales marks his golf ball.

Stuart Franklin / Getty Images

Do the Rules of Golf allow golfers to draw alignment aids - for example, a line or arrow - on the golf ball?

Yes: Drawing a line around your golf ball, then using that line to help you line up your putt, is perfectly OK under the Rules of Golf.

The Pros Do It, So Can You

You've probably seen a professional golfer mark his or her ball on the green, lift the ball and spin it around to match a line s/he has drawn on the ball to the putting line. This helps the golfer get the ball started on the correct line. It helps, in other words, with aim and alignment.

That's why some golfers draw a line around, or partially around, the golf ball. There are even gadgets sold for the express purpose of helping golfers draw straight lines around the circumference of the ball.

Some golf balls are manufactured with the company's name or other labeling on the ball written in such a way - sometimes with arrows on either side of the text - that a golfer can use that as an alignment aid.

In fact, before golfers started writing on golf balls themselves - something that became very common in the first decade of the 2000s - it was a common sight to see pros turning the golf ball on the green so that such text "pointed" down the putting line.

If you aren't already doing this, yet struggle with aim and alignment, give it a try. It's a very simple way to improve your aim.

Where Do the Rules Say It's OK to Draw Lines On Golf Ball?

But where, specifically, in the rulebook do the governing bodies - the USGA and R&A - give the OK to this practice?

Start with the idea that writing on golf balls is not only OK, but it's also required under the rules: Rule 6.3a states that "(t)he player should put an identifying mark on the ball to be played." There is no limit on what that ID mark should be. It can be anything you want, but you are required to mark your golf ball to make sure you can ID it later.

That every golfer should put an identifying mark on his or her golf balls is reiterated elsewhere in the rules, too.

Prior to 2019, the Decisions on the Rules of Golf included a specific decision permitting an alignment line. It was this one:

20-3a/2 Using Line on Ball for Alignment
Q.May a player draw a line on his ball and, when replacing his ball, position the ball so that the line or the trademark on the ball is aimed to indicate the line of play?

In the rewritten edition of the rule book that took effect in 2019, that decision no long is included. However, an interpretation to Rule 14.2 (Replacing Ball on Spot) does get at the same idea. Interpretation 14.2c/1 states that:

"When replacing a lifted ball on a spot, the Rules are concerned about only the location. The ball may be aligned in any way when being replaced (such as by lining up a trademark) ..."

As noted, some golf balls today come from the factory with an alignment line already included on the ball in the form of arrows bracketing a trademark or model name. And golfers are allowed to mark their golf balls in any fashion we please.