RULE: The Teeing Ground

Can I:
  - move the tee marker if it is in my way?
  - stand outside the tee box to hit my tee shot?
  - what happens if my ball falls off the tee during my backswing?
  - hit my tee shot with the ball teed outside the markers?

Rule 6 covers the rules about the teeing ground.

The teeing ground is the starting place for the hole to be played. It is a rectangular area two club lengths in depth. The front and sides are defined by the outside limits of two tee markers. A ball is outside the teeing ground when all of it lies outside the teeing ground. Your ball is in the teeing area when any part of the ball touches or is above any part of the teeing area.

Q. I want to tee up my ball as far to the side of the tee box as I can - but the plastic marker is in my way. What happens if I shift it to make my tee shot?

A. The tee markers are deemed to be fixed - but only for your first shot on the teeing ground of the hole you are playing. So in teeing off, you cannot move the tee markers. (General Penalty for breach is 2 strokes or loss of hole in match play.)

However .... you suffer the ignominy of swiping the ball so it just trickles from the tee and now the tee marker interferes with your stance or swing - now the marker is an obstruction. Relief as per the Movable Obstruction rule (Rule 15.2a). On our course, the markers are movable - but don't forget to replace the tee marker exactly.

Similarly, for example, your second shot to our ninth green finishes on the first tee, behind the tee marker, and it interferes with your shot. So you may move this marker as it is a movable obstruction.

(It is also notable that the Hole Number sign lies in my line, but doesn't interfere with my swing or stance - so no relief is available!)

(I have heard of a player who did not agree with the placement of the tee markers - in his view they were too close together, or aimed off line, or too far back, or some similar reason - so he moved them and hit off, leaving the tee marker in a new position. PENALTY - DISQUALIFICATION!)

Q. There is plenty of room on the teeing mound, but the markers are not utilising the full area. Can I place my ball near the marker, and stand outside the teeing ground to hit the ball?

A. Yes, a player may stand outside the teeing ground to play a ball within it.

Q. The ball tumbles off the tee just as I commence my backswing, so I stop my shot. Is there a penalty because the ball moved?

A. Short answer is NO. Replace the ball on the tee and tee off.

The ball is in play as soon as you have made a stroke on the teeing ground. A stroke is the forward movement of the club with the intention of striking at and moving the ball. As you have not made a stroke at the ball, there is no penalty.

If the ball falls from the tee, and you continue to make a stroke, that stroke counts, but there is no penalty (just embarrassment)! Remember to play the ball as it lies - do not sit it up on a tee again!

Q. I have teed off my first shot on a hole, and then notice (or are told) that I have teed my ball outside the teeing ground (tee box). Now what happens?

A. Depends on what type of play you are competing in, and on what you do as soon as you discover your mistake.

  • In stroke play, you incur the general penalty of 2 strokes, and you MUST play a ball from within the teeing ground. If you make a stroke from the next teeing ground before you correct your mistake (or leave the putting green of the final hole of the round), you are DISQUALIFIED. The stroke you make from outside the teeing ground and any subsequent strokes taken prior to your correction do not count in your score.
  • In match play, there is no penalty, but your opponent may immediately ask you to cancel the shot and play a ball from within the teeing ground. (If it was a great shot, a safe bet is the cancel call!)

 Q. I have seen a player build a little mound by hitting the turf with his clubhead, and then sitting the ball on top of this mound. Isn't that a penalty for "improving the lie" of his ball?

A. Yes it is any where on the course, except on the teeing ground when you are putting the ball into play.  You can also flatten any irregularities on the teeing ground (no, not with a bobcat!) or remove an offending tuft of grass without penalty - BUT only on the teeing ground for your first shot on each hole.

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