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Well out: Playing from Outside (or Wrong) Teeing Ground

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I have noticed that a Rule of Golf that is commonly broken during our competitions is putting a ball into play when starting a hole from somewhere other than from within the correct 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 the sides of which 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.

Rule 11-4 deals with situations where a player puts a ball into play from outside this defined area, and Rule 11-5 extends this to when a player plays from a wrong teeing ground, stating that the provisions of Rule 11-4 apply.

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The main situations that are covered by this Rule are;

  • A player tees their ball in front of an imaginary line drawn between the fronts of the tee markers.
  • A player tees their ball on the wrong side of the tee markers, e.g. to the left of the left tee marker.
  • A player tees off from behind the wrong tee markers, e.g. from white tee markers when red tee markers are the ones in play.
  • A player tees off from within the teeing ground of the wrong hole, e.g. after finishing the sixth hole they play from the tee markers of the 16th hole instead of the seventh hole.

An example of how careful players have to be concerning playing from the correct teeing ground occurred over 15 years ago in the Zambian Ladies Amateur Open Championship where I was an official.

Two ladies were disqualified when it was discovered that they had both played from the wrong tees earlier in the tournament.

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Before commencing their rounds, all competitors were instructed to play from the gold championship tees. However, during the first round, on one of the holes there were white tees incorrectly placed further back on the teeing area than the gold championship tees.

The two players discussed the situation between them and surmised that the obvious intention was that they should have been playing from the tees that were furthest back and so they both played from the whites.

When they completed their rounds, they reported the matter to the Committee which had no option other than to disqualify them under this part of Rule 11-4b;

If the competitor makes a stroke from the next teeing ground without first correcting his mistake or, in the case of the last hole of the round, leaves the putting green without first declaring his intention to correct his mistake, he is disqualified.

The Head Rules Official correctly pointed out that the competition’s notice clearly indicated that players were to play from the gold tees; it did not say, “Unless they are placed incorrectly”. It was the players’ responsibility to conform to that Rule.

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