Well, this is actually a rather quick answer, with more detailed information if you want to learn about it.
What happens if a golfer runs out of balls?
They can ask to borrow some from their fellow golfers, or simply plan ahead and pack more than the PGA recommended amount.
Beyond that, there are some things you should know.
There are some weird rules around golf balls and PGA-style rulings in general that you should be aware of.
Many of these may be a once-in-a-lifetime thing that you encounter, but either way, it’s something that you need to account for.
Rules About Golf Balls
There are a few rules you should be aware of.
First and foremost is the 4-4a rule, which states that a professional golfer may borrow gloves, towels, tees, things of that nature, as well as golf balls. You may ask another player, “Can I please have some more golf balls?”
They should (hopefully) say yes, but there is no guarantee.
They can deny your balls, and if you don’t have any, then you simply can’t keep playing. You are forced to forfeit, which is a little backward, but it’s what happens.
It’s not only something that can get you thrown out of the match/tournament, but it’s something that can hurt them as well.
Most players who go by the PGA Tour rules understand this, but just in case they don’t, this is a helpful nugget of information to have in your back pocket just in case.
Another golf ball rule you should know about is the One Ball Condition.
This means that you can only use one model of ball, from one specific brand, for the entirety of your game. If you came onto the course with a set of TaylorMade Project (a) golf balls, you cannot finish it out with Callaway Supersofts.
It’s not allowed.
That is if the rule is stated.
Every single match has to incorporate this rule for it to be effective. You can’t just show up and expect it to go this way.
That’s extremely helpful later on when you may need to borrow balls from another player, and they’re using something completely different from you.
Any round, in any competitive or professional capacity, may incorporate this rule. It’s up to you to check at the start of your match. Ask an official if the rule is in effect.
If they don’t know (which they should), assume that the rule is on. Pretend like you were told in ironclad certainty that the One Ball Condition is in effect.
In addition to those rules, there are others that the PGA and USGA both agree on, and are almost unanimous across the board with common sense in golfing.
Some of those unanimous rules include the stipulations that your golf balls must meet.
- Your golf balls must be entirely symmetrical. Asymmetrical golf balls may sway the game in one decision or the others (such as if someone put weight in their primary ball to drive it farther).
- There is no minimum weight for what your golf balls can be—you can make them weigh as much as a feather if somehow you were able to do that, but you cannot have them exceed 1.62 US ounces. Anything over this is considered cheating, as heavier balls will go farther than light balls.
- Your golf balls don’t have a maximum size that they can be, but they do have a minimum. 1.68 inches in diameter is the minimum requirement, and the best for golfers as well. If someone brought a 9.00-inch diameter golf ball that still didn’t exceed the previous rule of 1.62 ounces (which would be something to see, right?), then they would be able to play with it. The reason this rule is interesting is that there’s obviously a maximum diameter for the hole on the course, but since nobody has ever made a golf ball that would be too large to fit in it, there’s no need to put a cap on it.
Golf Ball Dimple Regulation
It sounds silly just saying it, but there are actually strict stipulations on the dimples of your golf ball.
The dimples are there to provide aerodynamics and actually work to produce spin on the ball while it’s in the air.
So what’s the rule?
Your golf ball dimples – each one, individually – must be symmetrical with one another.
This seems like it should be nestled underneath the rule about the golf ball diameter being symmetrical, but technically, you can have a proper diameter and perfectly circular golf ball and have asymmetrical dimples.
Since it’s all about aerodynamics and the way the ball travels through the air, the dimples affect that, and therefore they must be symmetrical.
I’ll be the first one to say that in the PGA Opens that I’ve attended or viewed in person, there’s never been a person to walk around and count the number of dimples and measure their size on everyone’s golf balls. That would be a waste of time.
That’s because they don’t need to thanks to the way we manufacture tennis balls.
If it comes out of a Callaway box, they have already been certified to make PGA and USGA-regulated tennis balls, so there’s just some immediate trust there.
Back in the 1970s, there was actually an asymmetrical golf ball that was created in an effort to reduce the damage that an amateur golfer could do to their clubs.
It had a slight bump so that it could rest evenly in the tee, and be slightly elevated. It makes total sense, but instead, tees have just been slightly altered since then.
That, and if you can’t hit the ball without digging up major turf, then you need practice, not to be in a professional competition.
There are more rules to golf balls than people think, and we’re not even done yet.
How Many Golf Balls Can a Pro Have in His Bag?
How many balls can a pro golfer carry in his bag?
Essentially, they can carry nine golf balls at a single time, but this isn’t some crazy rule. In truth, they can carry around as many as they want, or as many as their caddies are willing to carry.
There’s no actual limit, even when you get into the super-deep rules from the PGA.
Now, that being said, you have to understand that just like tennis, golf can be a very ritualistic sport. Nine is this magic number in golf. The logical reason behind it is that there are 18 holes, so one ball for every two holes.
But the thing is, it’s likely that you could run out of balls in that timespan.
As a matter of fact, there’s a perfect example of this. In 2000, Tiger Woods almost ran out of golf balls in the middle of his Pebble Beach game.
It’s a historic game that has a ton of awesome information and stories behind it, but the main thing is that Tiger almost ran out of balls at one point.
Do you think with this game championship on the line that anyone was just going to offer some to him? Doubtful. When you have the opportunity to take out the most intimidating golfer in history, you would do just that.
Tiger was using the Nike Tour Accuracy ball, and as we know, you can only use one ball brand and model during a professional game.
He was down to one ball, the one he teed with at the end, and if he lost it, he would have been done for. That would have been one of the most historic losses in golf history, over a technicality.
The Rules of Golf
Well, as it turns out, even the PGA has a super lenient policy on this.
In truth, it doesn’t matter how many you bring out onto the course, even if you’re going up against a golf rival and trying to show who’s best.
They may say, “I don’t have any more balls,” or simply that they’re not willing to share with you.
However that happens is up to them, and up to how you plan it (just make sure the rules are set beforehand so you don’t tick anyone off and have them claim that you’re not living up to what you’re supposed to be doing).
Bring as many or as few as you like, just try to stick to one brand of the ball at the very most. It might not be a bad idea to learn what balls your opponent uses, just in case the One Ball Condition comes into play.