Rules Guy: What is the penalty for using a tee in the drop area?

golfer in drop zone

What do the rules say about using a tee in a drop area?

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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.

What is the penalty for using a tee in the drop area? —Jeff Howerton, Evansville, Ind.

Nowadays, justice is less severe than, say, in medieval times, but in this case it’s equally harsh: The player has played from a wrong place in breach of Rule 14.7.

Depending on the circumstances, the Committee could consider this a serious breach that requires correction prior to starting the next hole or results in a DQ in stroke play, under Rule 14.7b.

Failing that, it’s the general penalty of two strokes. In match play, the penalty is simply loss of hole. Plus, the rack. Kidding!

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

super long tee
Rules Guy: Is there such a thing as a tee that’s too long?
By: Rules Guy

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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