In my experience, the term ‘tee box’ is often wrongly applied to describe what should be called the ‘teeing ground’, which is defined in the Rules of Golf as follows;
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.So, now that I have clarified what is meant by teeing ground, what should we call the whole area prepared by course maintenance staff for the siting of numerous, optional teeing grounds at the start of each hole? Well, I use the term ‘tee box’, but I am aware that others may call them teeing areas, tee decks or just tees. The term 'tee box' originates from the days before wooden or plastic golf tees became commonly used, when the practice was to place a box of sand alongside the tee markers, so that golfers could make a small mound to place their ball on before making their first stroke on that hole. The larger the total area of the tee box the more likely it is that a reasonably maintained teeing ground can be used for successive competitions, as a teeing ground that is repeatedly used will obviously be subject to more wear and tear damage, particularly on par-3s where many players do not tee-up their ball and can take significant divots.
It is because tee boxes can suffer from worn areas that some Committees introduce a Local Rule prohibiting players from playing a ball that comes to rest on any part of a tee box, apart from that of the hole being played. This is an example of such a Local Rule;
Tee boxes - A ball lying on a tee box other than the one being played must be lifted and dropped at the nearest point of relief not nearer the hole.Although this type of Local Rule is not uncommon, I am totally against its introduction and I encourage all golfers to recommend that it does not operate at their Club or Society course. My main concern is that golfers who find their balls at rest on a tee box other than the hole that they are playing may not take the permitted relief correctly. This is especially true when dropping a ball within one club-length of the nearest point of relief may mean dropping on a downslope, or in an area of rough, which is not unusual where teeing boxes are built on raised ground. I am a great believer in requiring players to play their ball as it lies wherever possible; the more often a player is permitted to lift their ball under the Rules the more likely they are to breach one. Also, Rule 33-8 permits Committees to establish Local Rules to deal with “local abnormal conditions”, which in my opinion does not include protecting tee boxes, which are common to all golf courses, except possibly on newly laid teeing surfaces, when a Local Rule may be appropriate on a temporary basis. In any case, it is my experience that the number of occasions that a player‘s ball comes to rest on a ‘wrong’ tee box is minimal and is unlikely to damage the playing surface to any material extent that would then negatively affect the area when it is next used as a teeing ground.
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