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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

Missing tee markers

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.

In the 2023 Rules of Golf, it’s included in Rule 6.2b (4). It says that if a player finds one or both tee markers missing, they should seek help from the committee.

“But if the committee is not available within a reasonable time, the player should use their reasonable judgement to estimate the location of the teeing area.”

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

Here’s where ‘reasonable judgement’ becomes key.

Rule 1.3b (2) says that determinations about location often cannot be precise but, “so long as the player does what can be reasonably expected under the circumstances to make an accurate determination”, their reasonable judgement will be accepted.

That’s the case even if it later turns out to be wrong.

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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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