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Golf ball hit by driver

I hit my ball as it was falling off the tee – can I reload?

Penalty, do-over, or play it as it lies? Our Rules of Golf expert has the answer

 

Gravity’s got real pulling power, hasn’t it? Get it? Maybe I won’t give up my day job. You place a ball on a tee and expect it to stay there. But, sometimes, it just takes on a life of its own – often while you’re in mid-swing.

Robert McDermott’s emailed question should be familiar to many of you who have suffered during a particularly difficult day with the elements.

“When attempting to hit a drive during a match at Royal North Devon, the wind blew my ball off the tee peg just as I was about to hit it,” he explained.

“Unable to stop the shot I made contact with the ball and it went about 50 yards. Should I replace the ball, take a penalty for hitting a moving ball, or play it as it lies?”

Never fear Robert, the answer is a relatively easy one to find. Let us open our rule books and turn to 6.2b (5)

what loft driver should you use

Ball falling off the tee rules

It’s hard luck, I’m afraid, but in this case you’re going to have to play it as it lies.

Now, if a teed ball falls off, or is knocked off the tee, before you’ve made a stroke at it, then there is no penalty and you can re-tee it anywhere you like in the teeing area.

But it becomes a very different story when you make a stroke. Remember, a stroke is defined as the forward movement of the club made to strike the ball.

Once you’re carrying that out, if you make a stroke at the ball either while it is falling or after it has fallen off, the ball is in play and the stroke counts.

On the upside, you won’t pick up a penalty for your troubles. The hunt for par, however, has just got that little bit harder.

What if you’d barely made contact at all and the ball – now in play – was still in the teeing area after you’d made the stroke? Well, here you can get a bit of help from Rule 6.2b (6).

It says that you can then lift or move the ball without penalty and play it, or another ball, “from anywhere in the teeing area from a tee or the ground… including playing the ball as it lies.”

Got a question for our expert?

Despite the changes to the Rules of Golf in 2019 and 2023, there are still some that leave us scratching our heads. I’ll try to help by featuring the best of your queries in this column.

What do you think about these ball falling off the tee rules? Let me know by leaving a comment on X.

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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