Few sports have changed as a result of technology quite like golf has. Clubs are made with high-end materials to reduce any irregularities, balls are precisely dimpled and weighted to fly farther and straighter, and training tools help duffers work on their form and posture. But one very simple change has the sport up in arms: whether it’s ok to draw alignment lines on your balls.
It’s not technically illegal in the sport to draw an alignment line. But the ethos of golf is pretty simple: play the ball as it lies. The rules do state “The player or caddie must not set an object down anywhere on or off the putting green to show the line of play.” The argument here is whether a pen line on the ball that points towards the hole can be counted as an “object.”
We’re getting pretty deep into the weeds on semantics and materialism, but the objections seem pretty clear: even though an alignment line isn’t a physical thing that you can pick up and put down, it still goes against the basic skill thesis of golf, which is trusting in a player’s innate sense of direction. Making things more complex is the rule allowing players to mark their balls so they can identify them, which does not specify what that mark needs to consist of.
At the end of the day, golfers are bound by the laws of good sportsmanship, and violating that just to shave a few strokes off your game isn’t worth it. Keep the lines off your balls.
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