Rules of Golf explained: The tee markers are missing – what do I do?

Stumped by something you’ve seen out on the course? Our rules expert will find you the answers

Despite the simplification of the Rules of Golf at the beginning of 2019, there are still some that leave us scratching our heads. And as I’ve passed the R&A’s level 2 rules exam with distinction, I am more than happy to help.

Play a ball from anywhere inside the teeing area, they say. But what if you don’t know where that is? What if you get to the tee and there’s a marker missing? Or worse, both of them are nowhere to be found.

I actually saw this one for myself a few weeks ago. So given the teeing area is defined by the two tee markers set, what happens if they’re not there to guide you?

Rules of Golf explained: Our expert says

Get help, and if you can’t do that, guess. That’s the answer in a nutshell, and it’s probably obvious if you think about it. But there’s one other thing you need to consider.

It’s all covered in a general interpretation to Rule 6.1 and it’s helpfully titled ‘What to do when one or both tee markers are missing’.

First up, a player should seek help from the committee. “However, if that help is not available within a reasonable time, the player should use his or her reasonable judgement…to estimate the location of the teeing area.”

All straightforward so far. But what if some later complains that you were being a bit fast and loose in where you decided to play the ball from? After all, the teeing area can be quite wide space of grass.

Here’s where ‘reasonable judgement’ becomes key.

The interpretation adds: “Recognising that such an estimation must be made promptly and cannot be precise, the player’s reasonable judgement of the location of the teeing area will be accepted even if later shown to be wrong (Rule 1.3b (2)).”

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