Penalty or Improper
By Snyper on 3/17/11
It sometimes seems like there is a never-ending list of rules concerning the do’s and don’ts in the game of golf. The endless list of possible situations that can occur during a round leaves most of us with more questions than answers when it comes to the proper rulings.

Sometimes, the habits and actions that we consider to be etiquette can become confused with penalties. One of the most common instances of this confusion is a player playing out of turn. While the rules of golf tell us that the player who is farthest from the hole is to play first, they do not warn players of any penalty for failing to follow this rule. So, while order of play is defined by the rules, you cannot be penalized for hitting a shot before a player who is farther from the cup. The only exception to this ruling would be if it were determined that competitors agreed to play out of turn with the intention of someone gaining an advantage. For example, if my competitor agreed to putt before me so that I could get a read from his putt, then I would be gaining an advantage by him playing out of turn. Thus, this would be an infraction of rule 10 and the penalty is an automatic disqualification of both players.

When I was originally informed of the fact that you cannot be penalized for going out of turn, my first question was whether you could be penalized for not playing when you were away? If, for example, I wanted to see my competitor hit first so that I could gage the effect of the wind, could I just refuse to play even though I was out? While this may seem like a strange scenario and an obvious violation of etiquette, it has to be a violation of the rules somehow, right?! Well, actually, yes it is. If you are ‘away’, it is your responsibility to continue play. In other words, the player farthest from the hole is responsible for maintaining pace of play. If, for some reason, the person who was ‘away’ refused to play his next shot because he wanted to see the result of his competitor, whom was closer, the ‘away’ player would eventually be penalized for unduly delaying play. So, while the rules of golf do not force players to play in any particular order, they do place responsibility of pace of play on the player that is ‘away’.

Another situation that happens quite frequently, but is usually ignored as a simple etiquette violation, is a player teeing off in front of the tee markers. We see it all the time and the result is usually just some jokes and suggestions of making your playing partner re-tee, but as you can probably assume, playing from in front of the markers is a penalty. Since nobody ever calls it, I’m guessing that most people have no idea of the proper ruling when this action occurs. To be honest, I wasn’t 100% sure myself. Turns out, according to rule 11, a player is penalized two strokes and must re-tee if he starts a hole from an area outside the teeing ground. The rules of golf define the teeing ground as a rectangular shape starting by drawing a line from marker to marker and then going backwards a depth of two club lengths. It is allowed within the rules to stand outside of said rectangle, but a player’s ball must be within the given parameters to start each hole. Otherwise, it’s a do-over and a hefty 2-stroke penalty!

Golf has a lot of rules and, also, a lot of etiquette. One of the toughest things about getting a new player involved in the game is teaching them all the nuances that exist during every round. While most of us are not playing golf with the intention of calling a penalty on our opponents every chance that we get, it is always a good idea to know the proper rulings for the most common situations. Playing out of turn is ok, but playing outside the tee markers is not. So, you may want to take a second look the next time you tee it up and make sure you’re not starting a hole with two extra strokes!

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[ comments ]
paddyhibernian says:

You need to emphasise the examples you offer refer to Strokeplay. The scenarios offered would have a different outcome if you were playing Matchplay.The most important Rule in Golf is Rule 6-1.
ericbjr1 says:
Another neat article would be about standing still and not standing in the line, or the extension of the line while someone else is playing their shot.
terrymulhern says:
Etiquette violation in sports is quite an issue, especially if it's a serious rule. Last year we faced an issue: it was a match between Princeton University and ESSEC Business School. The interview taken by one of the PhDs of Princeton was published by the online dissertation writing and typing tool - ManageCollegeSports news.
aabiajj says:
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