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Rules Guy: If I hit from the wrong tee box but correct it, am I still penalized?

March 24, 2020

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 four-ball match. Our opponents get to the tee ahead of us and hit. Inadvertently, I hit from the next box forward, which they duly noted. I rehit from the correct tees and played on, making a 5. Our opponents said my score was 7 for hitting from the wrong tees. Is that right? —Dennis Derby, via email

Your opponents weren’t obligated to tell you that you were about to play from the wrong tees, sportsmanship aside. Maybe they didn’t realize until too late … or not. Still, they confused the relevant rule for match play, Rule 6.1b(1), with the one for stroke play, Rule 6.1b(2). In this case in match play, the opponents get the choice of whether they want to cancel your stroke and require you to play from the correct tees; if they don’t cancel, you just play out the hole, penalty-free, even from the wrong tees. In stroke play, you indeed get a two-stroke penalty and are required to correct your mistake.

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

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