Rules Guy: Is it legal to brace your foot against a tee marker while you swing?

tee marker

What do the rules say about bracing your foot against a tee marker?

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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.

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.

For more tee-related guidance from our guru, read on …

I know that you’re allowed to tee up a certain distance behind a tee marker — but how far, exactly? Also, some tee markers can be quite deep — I’ve seen rectangular plates a foot long. Is the marker defined by its front end (the side closer to the hole), or its back end? Obviously, one needs to know so as not to tee up ahead of the marker, but I also have a playing partner who feels his irons are so precise he wants to use that foot to his advantage. — Randy Feldner, McLean, VA

Though it is neither here nor there and, as Tiger would say, it is what it is, your playing partner is either a Tour pro in disguise or suffering from delusions of grandeur often associated with narcissistic personality disorder.

group of golfers on tee
Rules Guy: If you have the honor on the tee, do you *have* to hit first?
By: Rules Guy

As to what defines the teeing area, see Definition of Teeing Area: It’s a two-club-length rectangle measured and bounded by the front and outside edges of the tee markers.

To anticipate a follow-up, “club-length” is always defined as the longest club in your bag that isn’t a putter. Now your knowledge is as precise as your playing partner’s irons (ironic cough implied).

The other day, I picked up a tee someone had left on the tee box and proceeded to use it. My friend told me this was a penalty, for using someone else’s equipment. He said that if I’d wanted to use it, I needed to have put it in my pocket first to claim that it’s mine. What’s the ruling? — Wade Lindren, via email

This sounds like a demented magician’s trick: “I put someone else’s tee in my pocket … say the magic words — ‘It’s mine!’ — take the tee out of my pocket … and — presto! It’s legal!”

Suffice to say, your friend is a severely misguided stickler. The only restriction on sharing equipment relates to clubs. There is absolutely no issue with using someone else’s tee, towel, rangefinder or ball.

(If the one-ball Local Rule, Model Local Rule G-4, is in effect, you can still borrow a ball, so long as it’s the same make and model as the one you were using.)

Accidentally using someone else’s clubs is a general penalty of two strokes in stroke play or, in match play, adjusting the match with a one-hole deduction, with a maximum of two such penalties in either instance. The club must immediately be declared out of play once the player becomes aware of his or her error — otherwise, he or she is disqualified upon again using the club.

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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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