Instruction

Ask the Rules Guy: Hitting from the wrong tee box and errant range balls on the course

Photo: Phil Disley

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DEAR RULES GUY: My foursome came to what we thought was the tee box for the third hole. Turns out it was the tee for the adjacent sixth hole, but I teed off before we came to our senses. How should I have proceeded?
—Gabe Jacquez, Lombard, Ill.

My Uncle Ned once made the same mistake, hitting from the 14th tee instead of the second. Poor guy didn't realize his error until he claimed he'd shattered the course record—with a 29. The penalty for playing from the wrong tee box is the same as it is for playing from anywhere outside the correct box: two strokes, under Rule 11-4. After taking the penalty, you should have disregarded your drive from the sixth and re-teed on No. 3. If you had managed to hit from the next tee before realizing your miscue, you'd be facing a DQ (and I don't mean a Dairy Queen).

DEAR RULES GUY: While playing a hole that abuts a practice range, I mindlessly whacked an errant range ball from the fairway back to the range. Did that constitute 'practice' during a round, which I know is a no-no?
—Shirley Brinson, Sioux Falls, S.D.

Your answer depends on your intent. If you purposely addressed the ball to work out a kink in your swing, then you should have been penalized two strokes under Rule 7-2. In your case, however, it sounds like you casually knocked the ball back to the range to merely tidy up the fairway, which is both permitted (by Decision 7-2/5) and appreciated (by greenkeepers everywhere).

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