Rules Guy: Can I use a mark on my ball to help line up my tee shots?

Ball on tee

What constitutes legal alignment off the tee?

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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.

In the middle of our season-ending amateur tournament, it was brought to my attention that my teeing technique may be in violation of the rules. When placing my peg in the ground, I put my right foot behind the ball to help me set up the ball’s alignment-aid line on my intended line. I step straight back, double-check, repeat the process if a fix is needed, and then take my shot. Am I a lawbreaker or in the clear? —Scott Higginbotham, via email

If you’re just standing behind the ball and using your shoe to check the ball’s alignment, Scott, that’s okay.

Ball on green
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If instead you’re creating some kind of mark on the ground that’s helping you align the ball and/or take your stance, you’re violating Rule 10.2b(3) — the upshot of which is that players are responsible for aligning themselves, and the penalty for which is the general penalty: two strokes in stroke play and loss of hole in match play. That’s almost as bad as having two left feet.

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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