Why Do Golfers Put Dots On Their Balls?

Golfer marking his balls

You’re at the golf course, and the gentleman in front of you puts a small purple dot on their golf ball.

Then they arrange it in a specific way so that they can see the purple dot when it’s on the tee, and then they swing.

Dots, lines, crosshairs—you can put just about any marking on your golf ball and still use it for legal moves. But why are people doing it in the first place? There’s a handful of reasons, and after you’re finished reading this, I’m pretty sure you’ll be following suit.


Why Do Golfers Put Dots On Their Balls?

dots on golf ball

They’re golf ball markers, although not in the traditional sense. These simple dots or markings help differentiate your ball from another player’s ball.

If you’re playing in a tournament setting, your ball can easily get mixed in with someone else’s if they land nearby.

It sounds a bit farfetched, like who would really get things mixed up, right? Well, everyone apart from pro players (who don’t have to pay for their golf balls) will, at some point in their golfing career, buy used or refurbished golf balls.

There’s an entire market for it. Plenty of companies will go and fetch used golf balls from courses (when they’re closed), refurbish them, and sell them. When you really rack up how many golf balls you can lose in the forest or in an on-site lake, the costs start to pile up.

Because of that, you can have a mix-and-match bag with half-a-dozen different golf ball manufacturers and logos. So can you opponent. The only thing that separates you from them is your marking, which should be different from theirs.

Before you begin, make a different color marking or a different symbol if you have the same color for your markers, and identify which belongs to whom before you begin your match.

Golf Markers

putting ball marker

A golf marker keeps the place of your golf ball.

When you tee off and your ball lands, a marker is placed to maintain that spot so you know where it landed when the next player tees off with their ball. Golf ball markers are used in four ball, although it may be done differently.

To help you better understand everything about golf ball markers, let’s discuss the different types of markers available.

Types of Golf Markers

It doesn’t come down to just one. There’s not really a wrong way to mark your golf ball on the green. You just have to make sure your marker isn’t going to get swept away by the wind, and these different golf ball marker types  help you out with that.

Hat Clip Markers

These are used to position your golf ball, in case you didn’t already know. You can get them in tons of different colors, shapes, sizes, and they’re used for more than just marking your ball.

Hat clip markers can also help you align your shots if you use them intelligently. These are the most effective, widely-used markers out there in pro tournaments for officiality reasons, although they’re not the only thing you’re allowed to use.


These are some of the most popular options, because most of us have a coin or two on-hand when we go to the club and golf course. You put a quarter down, and it’s done—it’s heavy, it’s not going to move, and your ball is marked appropriately.

While coins aren’t foolproof, they’re very easy to remember to bring with you (most of us have them on-hand anyway), making them ultra convenient. You can always have a designated coin you bring with you for good luck, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Divot Tool

divot tool for ball marking

Yes, this isn’t the most creative thing that you could be doing, but it is an option. Simply use your divot marker tool to signify where your ball was. Another option in this space is to simply put a tee in that spot, if it is allowed.

The only reason you might not be able to do this is because the divot or area left after pulling a tee out may negatively impact someone else’s game at a later date. The ball could gravitate towards this area and make it difficult for it to roll towards the hole.

Florescent Tack

This sounds a bit silly, but it goes back to night golf. A lot of golfing a tonight requires some kind of fluorescent marker or something visible in the dark so that you actually know where your ball lands.

These don’t necessarily work well in the daytime, but if you’re on the back nine and the sun is starting to set, these can come in handy. They’ll begin a low-level glow about halfway through sundown,

Monogrammed Marker

marker with monogramm

This is the big leagues. Pros use these expensive, metal, sometimes even golden markers with their logo or name monogrammed into them.

They act just like poker chips: heavy, wide, colorful enough to be spotted from far away, but they’re unique. You can accidentally bring the same poker chips as your opponent (it’s a low chance, but it could happen), but if you customize a monogrammed marker there’s no chance you’re going to end up making something similar to someone else.

Poker Chip

Super simple: a poker chip is a stylish marker that’s heavy enough to actually remain in place when a ball comes knocking into your marker.

Poker chips can be pretty large as well, and if they’re multicolored, you can spot them from far distances when you return towards the hole. These are popular choices because they give players a high-roller feel on the golf course.

What Can Be Used As a Ball Marker in Golf?

Anything. You can use any small object that will remain in place, like a quarter or a bingo marker.

Ideally, you want to use something that isn’t going to move with the wind or from the impact of another golf ball. When your opponent tees off, their ball can hit yours and mess everything up.

Sometimes you can even get away with carving a line into the green as a marker, although this is generally a bad idea because it damages course property (then again, so does placing a tee in the grass, but they account for those damages so it’s different).

What Ball Marker Do Famous Golfers Use?

official tournament marker

Many pro PGA players or famous golfers may use a slew of anything. You can use a quarter, a casino chip (commemorative, of course), and if you wanted to be cheeky, you could even use a potato chip to mark your golf ball.

Most of the time, PGA players will use a quarter for one simple reason: protection. A quarter is hard to move, so when the wind comes by or the opponent’s ball rolls towards the hole, it’s unlikely to move.

While this negates giving your opponent a penalty, that’s not really a strategy that you can go for, so it’s best to just have your marker remain intact so you can plan out your next shot.

Golf Marker Rules

Now then, there are other types of markers which you might be familiar with.

These are actual golf markers that designate where a ball lands and stops on the green. The thing is, there are rules surrounding these that you should know about as well, because they may interfere with how you

  • Your marker is a movable obstruction, and when it is moved by the request of an opposing player, you will lose the angle that your pen ball marker was pointing. If you have to move the ball back onto the green afterwards, you’re actually at an advantage since you can reposition it with your marker visible to you.
  • Your physical marker goes behind your ball, which could help align your next shot (when you place the ball back on the green) to putt just a little bit better. At the end of the day, this is a major benefit, not a setback.

Other than that, your ball marker and your physical ball marker don’t really interject with one another. It can be put to your advantage in a legal move if you are smart about it.

Marking Your Golf Balls

unique mark on golf ball

If you aren’t marking your golf balls, you aren’t optimizing your performance.

Maybe you’re a golfer who can just hit the ball perfectly every single time and this doesn’t apply to you, but for most of us (myself included), there are massive benefits to marking your balls.

You can get a specific golf ball marker, or you can get something like this that helps you mark your golf balls by lining things up for you. Just be sure that you have a marker on you to at least identify your balls if for no other reason.

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