Is it legal to borrow a ball from a playing partner?

We’ve all been there: a few mediocre shots, an elusive plugged ball and a big rough – and all of a sudden our calculation of how many golf balls we might need for the day is wrong. You are out of ammo.

Put aside the embarrassment of running out of balls and having to ask your playing partners to relieve you – is that allowed by the rules of golf?

Fortunately, yes. Rule 4.2a states, “A player may obtain a fair ball to play from anyone else, including another player on the course.” Not only can you ask your buddy for a few spare shots during your weekend game, but you can borrow a ball from anyone else on the course.

At first glance, this seems like a rather meaningless distinction. While we hope the intense competition never gets to this point, if your stingy partners give you the cold shoulder, you can technically yell at your friend on an adjacent hole and snag a sleeve.

Be aware, however, that if you are playing in competition where the “one-ball rule” (Model Local Rule G-4) is in effect, the ball you borrow must be of the same make and model as all the others. you were playing… and you lost.

More broadly, the Rules of Golf have very few limitations on sharing equipment. Borrowing a tee or using a playing partner’s rangefinder are fair games. The big no-no sharing clubs.

Rule 4.1b states that “the player must not make a stroke with a club used by someone else who is playing on the course (even if the other player is playing in a different group or competition).”

In stroke play, there is a two-stroke penalty on each hole where you used another player’s club, with a maximum penalty of four strokes. In match play, the match is adjusted by deducting one hole from the offending player, with a maximum penalty of two holes.

Long story short? Sharing equipment (balls, tees, rangefinders, etc.) is allowed, but you must play with your own clubs. You will now be able to breathe a little easier the next time you run out of bullets or your rangefinder battery runs out.

Michael C. Ford