Ball washers may be used to clean golf balls. Various designs exist, and many golf courses provide stand-mounted ball-washers near the tee box of each hole. Some courses even have ball and club washers on each golf cart. According to strict rules, the ball is not allowed to be cleaned between a player's tee shot and the ball's landing on the green, except to the degree necessary to inspect the ball for damage that would make it unplayable. Once the ball has landed on the green, the player may pick up and wipe off the ball to remove attached dirt or debris that would impede the ball rolling along the green, and between holes the ball may be thoroughly cleaned.

The minimum allowed diameter of a golf ball is 42.67 mm and its mass may not exceed 45.93 g. Modern golf balls have a two-, three-, or four-layer design constructed from various synthetic materials. The surface usually has a pattern of 300-450 dimples designed to improve the ball's aerodynamics by reducing the ball's drag-inducing wake and allowing spin on the ball to create lift. The method of construction and materials used greatly affect the ball's playing characteristics such as distance, trajectory, spin and feel. Harder materials, such as Surlyn, usually result in the ball's traveling longer distances, while softer covers, such as urethane, tend to generate higher spin, more "feel" and greater stopping potential. Golf balls are separated into three groups depending on their construction: two-, three-, or four-piece covers. Generally four-piece golf balls tend to be the most expensive, though price is no assurance of quality.


Most golf bags have a ring to which a player can tie or clip a golf towel, used to wipe hands and clean or dry balls and club faces. Some of these towels can be quite specialized, with a carabiner or other clip to attach it to the bag with a grommet used on the towel for durability, and incorporating rougher materials in certain sections of the towel for club and ball cleaning with softer weaves elsewhere for drying. Other cleaning products abound, from motorized ball cleaners to an array of brushes for various types of clubs as well as balls and shoes.
When on the green, the ball may be picked up to be cleaned or if it is in the way of an opponent's putting line; there are certain other circumstances in which a ball may be lifted. In these cases, the ball's position must first be marked using a ball marker; this is typically a round, flat piece of metal or plastic that is differentiable from others in use. Ball markers are often integrated into other accessories, such as divot tools, scorekeeping tools or tee holders, and in the absence of a purpose-made marker, a small coin such as a penny is acceptable.
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