Golf Rules Advice – Getting Off the Tee


Many golfers start their round with a nervous approach, especially if they don’t understand the Rules of Golf as they apply from the first tee.  

There are many misconceptions about this very important part of the game.  Getting into a dispute from the first tee has ruined many a round.  Here is some important advice about the Rules to ensure that you can begin the round with confidence.

Play From Inside the Teeing Area                                  

The teeing area is a rectangle that is two club-lengths deep where the front edge is defined by the line between the forward-most points of two tee-markers set by the Committee.  The side edges are defined by lines back from the outside points of the tee-markers.

If a player starts a hole by playing a ball from outside the teeing area in stroke play that’s a general penalty (two penalty strokes).  The player must correct the mistake by playing a ball from inside the teeing area.

The ball played from outside the teeing area is not in play.That stroke and any more strokes before the mistake is corrected do not count.

If the player does not correct the mistake before making a stroke to begin another hole or, for the final hole of the round, before returning the scorecard, the player is disqualified.

About the Tee Markers

If a player finds one or both tee-markers missing, the player should seek help from the Committee.  However, if that help is not available in a reasonable time, the player should use his or her reasonable judgment (Rule 1.3b(2)) to estimate the location of the teeing area.

Recognising that this estimation must be made promptly and cannot be precise, the player’s reasonable judgment of the location of the teeing area will be accepted even if later shown to be wrong.

Before making a stroke when playing from a teeing area, a player must not move a tee-marker in the teeing area to improve the conditions affecting the stroke.

Because moving tee-markers can have a significant effect on the competition, they should not be moved and, if they are moved, they should be replaced.  However, if a player moves a tee-marker because he or she thinks it should be in a different position, or deliberately destroys the tee-marker, the Committee may choose to disqualify the player for serious misconduct contrary to the spirit of the game (Rule 1.2a).

However, there would be no penalty if a player moves a tee-marker by tripping over it or hitting it in anger.  However a Committee could consider any abuse as serious misconduct.

If it’s not a Stroke it doesn’t count                                                    

A stroke is defined as the forward movement of the club made to strike the ball.  A stroke has not been made if the player decides during the downswing not to strike the ball and stops the clubhead before it reaches the ball or deliberately misses the ball.

Similarly accidentally hitting the ball when making a practice swing or accidently moving the ball, even with a club, during preparation doesn’t count; that’s not making a stroke.  In this situation someone in the group is bound to make the single word comment “ONE!”  Just give a wry smile, replace the ball and try not to be so clumsy next time!

After a ’False’ Stroke                                                                                                      We’ve all seen (or experienced)a situation when a nervous player has made a stroke (intending to strike the ball) but totally miss (the dreaded ‘windy’) or barely makes contact.

In this situation, when the ball remains in the teeing area, the player may move the ball to another spot within the teeing area, and play it from a tee as a second shot without penalty.  However if it finishes in front of the tee markers or to outside the side lines; then play it as it lies!

Etiquette on the Tee                                                                                                                                                      Stand still and ssshhh….. Find a place to stand then be quiet until shots have been hit. Your clubs should be always be away from the teeing ground and ready to head towards the fairway.

Don’t stand directly behind the person on the tee, be aware of where your shadow falls and be at least 2-3 metres away. A ‘nice shot’ comment is always welcome. Total silence is usually best for bad shots, but if you with some fun guys, a little ribbing or an ‘uh-oh’ is OK.

Usually the order of play is the lowest scorer on the previous hole. On the first hole, the general rule is that the order of play follows the respective handicaps of the players, from lowest to highest.   However ‘ready golf’ means if you’re ready while the guy with the honour is fiddling around, hitting before him to speed up play is OK.  Maybe seek permission first.

One of the rudest things you can do is leave the area before everyone has hit and walking towards your ball along the side of the hole.

Safety on the Tee                                                                                                          The main danger is from players warming up on the first hole with practice swings before play commences.  Always be aware of where other players are standing and take your practice swings well out of range of others.