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.
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 (as in the photo).
• 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 blue 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 6th hole they play from the tee markers of the 11th hole instead of the 7th hole.
An example of how careful players have to be concerning playing from the correct teeing ground occurred two years ago in the Missouri Women's Golf Association Mid-Amateur Championship. Two ladies were disqualified when it was discovered that they had both played from the wrong tees earlier in the tournament. 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 themselves 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 who 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.
Edit 22nd March 2016: I should have clarified that in match play, if a player plays a ball from outside the teeing ground, there is no penalty, but their opponent may immediately require the player to cancel the stroke and play a ball from within the teeing ground, Rule 11-4a.
An Example of How the New Exception to Rule 6-6d Works
South Korean, Hyun-woo Ryu, was one of the first professional golfers to benefit from a Rule change that came into effect on 1st January this year. Earlier this month, during the New Zealand Open at The Hills, he played from the wrong spot after taking a drop at the first hole of his third round and went on to sign for an incorrect score because the situation did not come to light until the following day.
Under the old Rules, signing for an incorrect score resulted in disqualification. However, the new Exception to Rule 6-6d states;
If a competitor returns a score for any hole lower than actually taken due to failure to include one or more penalty strokes that, before returning his score card, he did not know he had incurred, he is not disqualified. In such circumstances, the competitor incurs the penalty prescribed by the applicable Rule and an additional penalty of two strokes for each hole at which the competitor has committed a breach of Rule 6-6d. This Exception does not apply when the applicable penalty is disqualification from the competition.So, Ryu received a penalty of two strokes for playing his ball from a wrong place and, under the new Rule, an additional penalty of two strokes for signing for an incorrect score card. Without this additional penalty he would have finished tied for sixth, but instead the 34-year-old had to settle for a share of 16th place. However, I am sure that he would agree that this was better than being disqualified!
It is inter-Club match play time again for many golfers in the Northern Hemisphere. A good time to check out my 'So You Are Going to Play Match Play' eDocument (click here) and my 'Match Play Quiz' eDocument (click here).
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