Rule 7 - Ball Search: Finding and Identifying Ball

Purpose of Rule: Rule 7 allows you to take reasonable actions to fairly search for your ball in play after each stroke.

7.1  How to Fairly Search for Ball

a. You May Take Reasonable Actions to Find and Identify Ball

You may fairly search for the ball by taking reasonable actions to find and identify it, such as:

If taking such reasonable actions as part of a fair search improvesImprove: To alter one or more of the conditions affecting your stroke or other physical conditions affecting your play so that you gain a potential advantage for your stroke. the conditions affecting the strokeConditions Affecting the Stroke: The lie of your ball at rest, the area of your intended stance, the area of your intended swing, your line of play and the relief area where you will drop or place a ball. there is no penalty. But if the improvementImprove: To alter one or more of the conditions affecting your stroke or other physical conditions affecting your play so that you gain a potential advantage for your stroke. results from actions that exceeded what was reasonable for a fair search, you get the general penaltyGeneral Penalty: Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play..

b. What to Do If Sand Affecting Lie of Your Ball Is Moved While Trying to Find or Identify It

You must re-create the original lieLie: The spot on which your ball is at rest and any growing or attached natural object, immovable obstruction, integral object, or boundary object touching your ball or right next to it. Loose impediments and movable obstructions are not part of the lie of a ball. in the sand, but may leave a small part of the ball visible if the ball had been covered by sand.

If you play the ball without having re-created the original lieLie: The spot on which your ball is at rest and any growing or attached natural object, immovable obstruction, integral object, or boundary object touching your ball or right next to it. Loose impediments and movable obstructions are not part of the lie of a ball., you get the general penaltyGeneral Penalty: Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play..

7.2  How to Identify Your Ball

You may identify your ball by seeing it come to rest or seeing your identifying mark on the ball.

 For more information on how your ball may be identified.

7.3  Lifting Your Ball to Identify It

If a ball might be yours but you cannot identify it as it lies, you may lift the ball to identify it. But the spot of the ball must first be markedMark: To show the spot where a ball is at rest by either placing a ball-marker right behind or right next to the ball, or holding a club on the ground right behind or right next to the ball., and the ball must not be cleaned more than needed to identify it (except on the putting greenPutting Green: The area on the hole you are playing that is specially prepared for putting, or the Committee has defined as the putting green (such as when a temporary green is used).).

If the lifted ball is your ball or another player’s ball, it must be replacedReplace: To place a ball by setting it down and letting it go, with the intent for it to be in play. on its original spot.

If you lift your ball when not reasonably necessary to identify it, fail to markMark: To show the spot where a ball is at rest by either placing a ball-marker right behind or right next to the ball, or holding a club on the ground right behind or right next to the ball. the spot of the ball before lifting it or clean it when not allowed, you get one penalty stroke.

Penalty for Playing Incorrectly SubstitutedSubstitute: To change the ball you are using to play a hole by having another ball become your ball in play. Ball or Playing Ball from a Wrong PlaceWrong Place: Any place on the course other than where you are required or allowed to play your ball under the Rules. in Breach of Rule 7.3: General PenaltyGeneral Penalty: Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play..

7.4  Ball Accidentally Moved in Trying to Find or Identify It

There is no penalty if your ball is accidentally movedMoved: When your ball at rest has left its original spot and come to rest on any other spot, and this can be seen by the naked eye (whether or not anyone actually sees it do so). by you, your opponentOpponent: The person you compete against in a match. The term opponent applies only in match play. or anyone else while trying to find or identify it.

If this happens, the ball must be replacedReplace: To place a ball by setting it down and letting it go, with the intent for it to be in play. on its original spot (which if not known must be estimated). In doing so:

Penalty for Breach of Rule 7.4: General PenaltyGeneral Penalty: Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play..