Rules Guy: Is it legal to move a tee marker if it’s affecting your swing?
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.
A guy in my foursome teed his ball properly behind and inside the marker — but then pulled the marker out, saying it would interfere with his swing. I told him that in a serious competition (which this wasn’t) this move may in fact disqualify him. He was skeptical of my opinion. —Steve Gulbrandsen, Victoria, MN
Why skeptical — you seem like a level-headed fellow to Rules Guy. That said, while moving a tee-marker can get you disqualified, in this case it would only have been the general penalty.
When playing a tee shot from the teeing area, the marker is treated as fixed, so if moving it improves your stance or area of intended swing (or any other condition affecting the stroke) you get the general penalty under Rule 8.1.
If you move the tee-marker because you believe the Committee messed up, or deliberately destroy a tee-marker (in a murderous rage, say), then the Committee would have the option of disqualifying you for serious misconduct under Rule 1.2.
If the player causes the tee-marker to move for some other reason and the conditions affecting the stroke are not improved, there is no penalty per Clarification 6.2b(4)/1 — the player should replace the marker but isn’t penalized if they don’t.
For more tee-box guidance from our guru, read on …
On the 18th hole, I had the idea to brace my front (left) foot up against the backside of the left tee marker, to give me the feeling not to sway forward on the downswing. Is this legal? — Sam Stitt, Cave Creek, AZ
Brace yourself, Sam: It is! With a caveat. Namely, you can’t move the tee marker such that your stance was improved.
So long as that’s the case, you are a gentleman, a scholar, and an innovator.
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