Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Teeing Grounds

Staggered tee boxes at Branson Creek Golf Club, Hollister, Mo. USA
First, let me clarify the distinction between a teeing area (or tee box), which is the whole area (or areas) that have been prepared by the greens staff for locating various teeing grounds, and the teeing ground itself, which is defined 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.
Committees, or those taking responsibility for running a competition, should give careful consideration to the siting of teeing grounds. As I have no expertise in course set-up, I have taken much of the following content from the excellent R&A publication, 'Guidance on Running a Competition’.

Ideally, teeing grounds should be located in different places for each competition, to ensure that the whole teeing area is worn evenly over the course of a golfing season. Committees should decide on the teeing grounds to be used for each hole in advance of any major competition, to allow the greens staff to protect them from play in the run up to the event.

If players are playing practice rounds before a major event, it is suggested that the Committee places the tee-markers for practice as far back on the teeing areas as possible, while still enabling a stroke to be made. As the teeing ground is an area two club-lengths in depth, when placing the tee-markers for a competition they should never be closer than two club-lengths from the back of the tee. So, if the tee-markers are a club-length from the back for practice rounds, the area that will be used for the competition will be unaffected. This allows the players to play the course at its full length when practicing. Whereas, if the tee-markers are placed well ahead of the competition course length during practice, the players are more likely to go back and play from where they think the tee-markers will be for the competition, potentially causing damage to that area instead of protecting it.

Whether it is the Committee or the greens staff setting the tee-markers on the competition days, it is important that the markers are set pointing towards the ideal hitting line. This can be achieved by eye or, to be absolutely sure, by using something like a T-square. It is also preferable that, where possible, there is consistency in terms of the width of the teeing areas. The R&A recommends that tee-markers are positioned six or seven yards width apart (seven tends to be for par 3s). If the tee-markers are much farther apart, it increases the area of damage and also increases the likelihood that a player may tee up in front of the tee-markers. If the teeing area is small, and there is, for example, four days of competition, it is necessary to plan out where the tee-markers will be for each day to ensure that there is enough undamaged space remaining for the last day.

The person(s) responsible for running the competition should keep a close eye on the weather forecast. If there is a strong wind forecast, it could mean that players may not be able to reach the fairway from the planned teeing ground, so serious consideration should be given to moving the tee forward for that day’s play. Another recommendation is that once the tee-markers are positioned, a mark should be painted beside them, in case they are accidentally moved or go missing. This also provides a useful reference for the following day.

Here are some bullet points from Rule 11, Teeing ground;

  • The ball must be played from within the teeing ground and from the surface of the ground, or from a conforming tee in or on the surface of the ground. 
  • A player may stand outside the teeing ground to play a ball within it.
  • If a ball, when not in play, falls off a tee or is knocked off a tee by the player in addressing it, it may be re-teed, without penalty. However, if a stroke is made at the ball in these circumstances, whether the ball is moving or not, the stroke counts, but there is no penalty.
  • In stroke play, if a competitor, when starting a hole, plays a ball from outside the teeing ground, they incur a penalty of two strokes and must then play a ball from within the teeing ground. If the competitor makes a stroke from the next teeing ground without first correcting their mistake or, in the case of the last hole of the round, leaves the putting green without first declaring their intention to correct their mistake, they are disqualified. The stroke from outside the teeing ground and any subsequent strokes by the competitor on the hole prior to his correction of the mistake do not count in their score.
I am aware that many Committees think that they can further protect their teeing areas with a Local Rule that makes it mandatory to take relief when a ball comes to rest on a teeing area other than the one being played. I am strongly against the introduction of such a Local Rule for the reasons that I explained in this earlier blog.

Good golfing,


 


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15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Barry
I am a newcomer to your blog but already finding it very helpful.
In your piece today about teeing outside the teeing ground you say


"In stroke play, if a competitor, when starting a hole, plays a ball from outside the teeing ground, they incur a penalty of two strokes and must then play a ball from within the teeing ground. "

However a few days ago in your piece on when a stroke "must" be replayed you did not include this.

Have I stumbled on an omission or is there a reason why you left it out?
Many thanks in advance

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

You have misunderstood my blog on 'When a Stroke May or Must Be Replayed'. In all of those situations, when the stroke is replayed the original stroke is cancelled and does not count in the player's score.

When a player plays from outside the teeing ground it does count, in so far as there is a penalty of two strokes and the player will then be playing their third stroke from the teeing ground.

Barry

Anonymous said...

Hi Barry,

I have a question regarding playing from outside the teeing ground.

If a player plays from outside the teeing ground and tries to tee off from within the teeing ground, but mistakenly tees off again from outside the teeing ground, would that be a penalty of 4 strokes?

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

Decision 1-4/12 6. Unrelated Acts Result in One Rule Being Breached More Than Once – Multiple Penalties Applied.

So the player incurs total penalties of four strokes and must then play from within the teeing ground.

Barry

Eamonn said...

Hi Barry,

I was playing a competition last week and when teeing off I topped the ball and failed to get off the tee box ending up about ten feet in front of the teeing ground still on the same tee box. I was producing my three wood to hit my ball when one of the older guys insisted that I drop my ball off the tee box completely. I contended that I was entitled to play my ball as the tee box was in play. I have gone through the rule book with a fine tooth comb and I feel that I was right. I am aware of the local rule which states under the G.U.R. rule that, "All tees and greens(not being played)must be considered G.U.R. from which play is prohibited. Relief must be taken."
What do you think?

Eamonn.

Barry Rhodes said...

Eamonn,

The 'older guy' was wrong; you must play the ball from where it came to rest on the tee box. Even where Clubs have introduced a Local Rule requiring players to take mandatory relief from tee boxes, it usually only applies when a ball comes to rest on a teeing area other than the one being played.

Barry

Barry Rhodes said...

It has been pointed out to me that I gave a wrong answer to the question that was asked on this blog on 11th December 2014. In stroke play, a player who plays twice from outside the teeing ground (why???) only incurs a penalty of two strokes, as the ball has not been put in play. Strokes made with that ball and any subsequent strokes made with any ball before successfully playing a ball from within the teeing ground do not count.

Barry

Unknown said...

Hi,

I was playing golf yesterday and one of the players moved back (within 2 clubs). But played his tee shot sideways, cutting a corner. My question is does the ball have travel through the markers?

Barry Rhodes said...

Unknown,

No, the ball may be played from anywhere within the teeing ground with no restriction on the direction that it is played.

Barry

Anonymous said...

This is a silly question but I would like to hear your opinion. At my club they tend to place the tee box markers too close together. In other words, the space between the left and the right hand markers is too narrow. How can I convince these people there is no good reason for that? Thank you. Marci Maloney grannain@yahoo.com

Barry Rhodes said...

Marci,

This is defimitely not a Rules of Golf question, as there is nothing in the Rules that sets out a minimum distance between tee markers for a hole. I suspect that your Committee/greenkeeper place them together to protect as much of the tee box area as they can, for future competitions.

If you want some information to take back to those responsible for the placement of the tee markers at your Club, you can quote this sentence from the R&A publication, 'Guide to Running a Competition' Section 5-2, Teeing Grounds; Tee-markers should be placed about six to seven yards apart. www.randa.org.

I must say that this width distance surprises me; it is probably intended for sigificant events, rather than regular Club competitions.

Barry

Anonymous said...

I teed my ball between the markers, not in front of them, and was told by another player it had to be behind the narkers. I can not find rule that says it has to be behind tee box narkers.

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

Providing any part of your ball was lying behind an imaginary line defined by the front limit of the two tee-markers it was within the teeing ground. See the Definition of Teeing Ground at the front of the Rules book.

Barry

Anonymous said...

Barry..Is there a rule for the alteration of the tee box markers, outside a distance governed by the rules and obviously affecting slope and handicap. Match Committee at my club claims they can move tees withing 100 metres overall, without affecting any conditions. In particular moving one tee 30 metres and another 40 metres
Cheers
David

Barry Rhodes said...

David,

Your question relates to the handicapping system in use and not a Rule of Golf. There are several different handicapping systems used in different countries around the world and I do not have any expertise in this area. However, I would guess that the variance in teeing ground locations you describe is reasonable and is probably within the system guidelines.

Barry.