Rules Guy: Is there a time limit on how long you can wait for others to move before hitting?

golfers waiting on tee

What do the rules say about time limits when you're waiting on others to move before hitting?

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The Rules of Golf are tricky! Thankfully, we’ve got the guru. Our Rules Guy knows the book front to back. Got a question? He’s got all the answers.

When teeing off and other players are standing directly behind you, is it okay to wait until they move? Is there a time limit to tee off? And is it bad etiquette for them to stand there? —David Mooney, via email

David, as parents are wont to tell their frustrated toddlers, “Use your words.”

It’s fine to let playing partners know you don’t want them positioned where they could be in your line of sight — just do it politely. This way, you won’t have to wait and hope that they somehow intuit your feelings. (It’s only bad etiquette if they stand behind you knowing that you find it distracting, IMHO.)

Under Rule 1.2a, which covers expected conduct, players must show consideration for their fellow golfers, so ask and they shall move. As for time limits to play your shot, Rule 5.6a discusses unreasonable delays but, really, this situation should never, ever reach that threshold. Just please talk it through.

For more other-player guidance from our guru, read on …

In a stroke-play competition, Player A inadvertently pulls Player B’s driver out of B’s bag and makes a stroke from the teeing area. Realizing the mistake, A hands the club to B and declares it out of play, then replays the stroke with his own driver. He abandons the first ball and winds up making a 5 with the second ball. What is his score for the hole? —Johnny Williams, Tampa Bay, FL

Something similar once happened to Rules Guy with a pair of identical-twin sisters on a tournament committee, but this is not the forum for such matters ….

Rules Guy: Are you allowed to mark another player’s errant shot without their permission?
By: Rules Guy

Even if you had less than 14 clubs, you’re not allowed to use a club selected for play by another player on the course. In essence, you get two penalty strokes for the breach of Rule 4.1b.

Then, when you played again from the teeing area, you were actually playing under stroke and distance. Before the 4.1b penalty, that stroke with your own driver was actually your third shot, plus whatever else it took to get the ball into the hole, plus two more for the 4.1b penalty.

To review: 1 (stroke with wrong club); 2 (penalty stroke under stroke and distance); 3 (stroke with correct club from teeing area); 4, 5, 6, 7 (four more strokes to complete the hole); 8, 9 (penalty strokes under 4.1b). And with that, Rules Guy is off to take a nap. We are exhausted.

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Got a question about the Rules? Ask the Rules Guy! Send your queries, confusions and comments to We promise he won’t throw the book at you.

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