Don’t be late for your tee time. This is a rule I’ve seen broken nearly every weekend at the clubs where I’ve been fortunate to be a member. I’m pretty sure it happens at yours too.
Rule 5.3 – Starting and Ending Round – has the potential to cause carnage for the unsuspecting handicapper if they’re not wise on a medal day.
So let’s have a closer look at the rule and see if we can stop you falling foul…
Rules of golf explained: Our expert says
It won’t surprise you that sanctions are coming if you are late for a tee time. But you can also be penalised for being early too. Popped out a couple of minutes ahead of schedule on a comp day if the coast has been clear? Well, the Rules say you’re in breach.
Rule 5.3a – When to Start Round – states that a player has to begin at his or her starting time (and not before).
‘The player must be ready to play at the starting time and starting point set by the Committee,’ it says.
The penalty for not being on time is disqualification. But there are three exceptions to this.
If you arrive at the starting point, and are ready to play, no more than five minutes late then the general penalty (two shots, or loss of hole in match play) is applied to the first hole.
Conversely, if you start no more than five minutes early then the general penalty also applies to the first hole.
The third is if the committee decide that “exceptional circumstances prevented the player from starting on time”. In this case, there is no breach of the Rule and no penalty.
What counts as exceptional? Well, it’s not a traffic jam for a start, a flat tyre, or dodgy GPS.
An interpretation describes examples as providing medical assistance at an accident or giving a statement as a witness, when they would otherwise have met their required starting time, or having to evacuate your hotel when a fire alarm goes off. Pretty rare, I’m sure you’ll agree.
So next time you’re trying to steal a couple of minutes from the start time, hold your horses. You don’t want to pick up a penalty just as you’ve hit your first shot.
Have a question for our Rules of Golf expert?
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.
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