Rule of the Month: Tee for Two or Four?

By Sr. Rules Officials: Pete Scholz and Terry McEvilly

The Teeing Area

We have all played golf with a player who inadvertently tees up his or her ball a few inches in front of the tee markers. Does it really matter? To this question comes a resounding “yes.” And in certain forms of play, the sporting approach is to bring this to the attention of the player before he or she makes a stroke.

Rule of the Month

The goal of the Rules is to ensure that every golfer plays the same game on the same course as outlined and defined by the Committee. And the Committee is counting on every golfer applying the Rules to their own play and to help and ensure that others do likewise.

Similar to the putting green, the teeing area has specific Rules that regulate play when a player’s ball is in the teeing area. It is where the player must play from when starting the play of a hole. It is usually the smallest area of the course and is a rectangle with the front edge defined by the line between the forward-most points of the two tee-markers and is only two club-lengths deep. It is important to note that other teeing areas on the course (whether on the same hole or another hole) are part of the general area and the teeing area Rules would only pertain to a player who is required to begin a hole from that specific teeing area.

Test your knowledge of beginning a hole from the teeing area with the following questions.

Questions: True / False

  1. All of the ball must be within the lines of the teeing area before making a stroke.
  2. In stroke play, when starting a hole, if the player makes a stroke at a ball that is outside the teeing area, the stroke doesn’t count and the player incurs the general penalty of two strokes and must play again from inside the teeing area.
  3. In match play, when starting a hole, if the player makes a stroke at a ball that is outside the teeing area, the stroke doesn’t count and the player incurs the general penalty of loss of hole.
  4. After a stroke at a ball in the teeing area, the ball remained in the teeing area. The player may substitute another ball and play the new ball from anywhere in the teeing area without penalty.
  5. If a tee-marker interferes with the player’s stance, it may be removed prior to the stroke provided the player replaces it before anyone else plays from that teeing area.
  6. A ball that has been properly played from the teeing area comes to rest out of bounds. The player must return to the teeing area and drop a ball within the teeing area.
  7. A player is allowed to improve the conditions affecting the stroke within the teeing area by altering the surface of the ground.
  8. If the ball falls off the tee as the player makes a stroke at it, the stroke doesn’t count in his or her score and another ball may be re-teed anywhere in the teeing area.
  9. If a player decides to play a provisional ball from the teeing area, the proper order of play is to allow the other players in the group to play their first stroke before the player plays his or her provisional ball.
  10. On a par three, the player creates a mound in the teeing area with her club and tees a ball up on the mound. She breaks off a few blades of grass immediately behind her ball before making a stroke. As she makes the stroke, the ball begins to fall off the tee. She completes the stroke hitting the ball out of bounds. Without allowing anyone else in the group to play their first strokes on the hole, she drops a ball from knee height in the teeing area. She lifts the ball without marking its location and decides to allow the other players to play first. After the other players have played, she tees up another ball in the teeing area instead of replacing the dropped ball on the original spot. She makes a stroke at the teed ball and holes the shot. Her score for the hole is 3.


Answers:

  1. False. Rule 6.2b. If any part of the ball is within the teeing area, the ball is considered in the teeing area.
  2. True. Rule 6.1b. In stroke play, it is important that every player begins each hole from the same location. Even though the breach might only involve a few inches, the player hasn’t played the same course as every other player in the competition.
  3. False. Rule 6.1b. In match play, when this breach occurs, the fate of the golfer is now in the hands of his or her opponent. The opponent has the right to cancel the stroke and require the player to play again from inside the teeing area without penalty.
  4. True. Rule 6.2b(6). Any time a player’s ball is in the teeing area (whether in play or not) it may be moved to another location within the teeing area and even substituted with a different ball.
  5. False. Rule 6.2b(4). Tee-markers are set by the Committee and should remain in the same location for all players. By eliminating the interference, the player has improved the area of intended stance. By making a stroke the player has a breached Rule 8.1a and incurs the general penalty. However, the news is not all bad. Under Rule 8.1c, if the player eliminates the improvement by replacing the tee-marker before making a stroke, thus restoring the conditions affecting the stroke, there is no penalty.
  6. False. Rules 14.6a and 6.2b(2). It is true that the next stroke must be played from within the teeing area but the player is allowed to tee a ball or place it anywhere in the teeing area.
  7. True. Rule 6.2b(3). A player may press down soil or create mounds to place a tee or ball in or on within the teeing area. Additionally, dew, frost and water may be removed without penalty from the teeing area. But don’t try that elsewhere on the course.
  8. False. Rule 6.2b(5). If the player makes a stroke at a ball that is falling off the tee, the stroke counts and the ball is played as it lies. If the ball remained in the teeing area, it may be re-teed anywhere in the teeing area and the player is making his or her second stroke. If the ball is outside the teeing area, the player may play again from the teeing area under penalty of stroke and distance and will be making their 3rd stroke under Rule 18.1.
  9. True. Rule 6.4c. While there is no penalty for not doing so, the proper order of play is to allow all other golfers in the group to tee off before playing a provisional ball from the teeing area.
  10. True. Every action the player took was permitted under the Rules. Her score includes the original stroke that went out of bounds and there is no penalty for playing a moving ball. She does incur a penalty stroke under Rule 18 for the stroke and distance procedure for a ball out of bounds and her final stroke that she holes out is her third stroke. All of her actions within the teeing area are permitted under the Rules and there are no penalties for those actions.