Rule 21 - Cleaning Ball
Rules of Golf: Rule 21 - Cleaning Ball
All defined terms are in italics and are listed alphabetically in the Definitions section.
A ball on the putting green may be cleaned when lifted under Rule 16-1b. Elsewhere, a ball may be cleaned when lifted, except when it has been lifted:
To determine if it is unfit for play (Rule 5-3);
For identification (Rule 12-2), in which case it may be cleaned only to the extent necessary for identification; or
Because it is assisting or interfering with play (Rule 22).
If a player cleans his ball during play of a hole except as provided in this Rule, he incurs a penalty of one stroke and the ball, if lifted, must be replaced.
If a player who is required to replace a ball fails to do so, he incurs the general penalty under the applicable Rule, but there is no additional penalty under Rule 21.
Exception: If a player incurs a penalty for failing to act in accordance with Rule 5-3, 12-2 or 22, there is no additional penalty under Rule 21.