Rules Guy: Is it legal to test your carry distance on the first hole from the driving range?

What do the rules say about hitting shots onto a hole from the range?

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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.

At a recent tournament, the driving range was adjacent to the first tee. In his warm-up, a player who hadn’t seen the course before was hitting balls from the range onto the first fairway to see if he could clear a pond hazard on his opening drive. Clearing the pond leaves a flip wedge; playing short or to the side of it requires a longer approach. Since he was gaining course knowledge, is he penalized for playing the course on the day of the tournament?
—Andy Brown, via email

It feels like he should be penalized — that this should be treated differently from the guy who accidentally slices one onto the course from the range.

And yet, perhaps unsatisfyingly, it isn’t.

Rule 5.2 indeed prohibits practicing on the course prior to the day’s round. Despite where his practice shots ended up, however, this player is making them from the designated practice area, not from on the course in breach of Rule 5.2.

Even though he may have gained insight, it’s not a breach. That said, if there are golfers on the course while he’s doing this, it’s dangerous and worth a pointed remark to the player — or finding the committee in charge and asking them to have a word with him.

For more guidance from our guru, read on …

tee box safety net
Rules Guy: How do you take relief from a tee box safety net?
By: Rules Guy

I play year-round here in Colorado. Come winter, it can be hard, and sometimes impossible, to get a tee in the ground, so I use a rubber tee like the ones at driving ranges. Is this permissible — and, if so, is it permissible year-round? I like that the ball is always the same height at address, and my drives are more consistent as a result. —Dean Marraccini, Niwot, Colo.

You want to know where the rubber meets the road, Rules-wise.

As long as your rubber tee doesn’t exceed four inches in height, it’s perfectly acceptable to use, regardless of the ground conditions.

Keep burning rubber on those tee shots and you might just turn into a trendsetter.

Need help unriddling the greens at your home course? Pick up a custom Green Book from our sister company Golf Logix.

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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