Ask the Rules Guy: Mushroom obstruction and another man's tee

Ask the Rules Guy: Mushroom obstruction and another man’s tee


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DEAR RULES GUY: In a recent round, I found my ball resting up against the stem of a large mushroom. I didn’t know what to do, so I decided to see if I could play it as it lay. When I addressed my ball, I discovered that I couldn’t see it because it was hidden under the mushroom’s cap. I didn’t know if I could remove the mushroom without penalty or take a free drop because I couldn’t see my ball. What’s the deal?

You might say you were up Shitake Creek without a paddle. According to Rule 12-1, you aren’t entitled to see your ball when making a stroke. And since the mushroom was fixed and growing, it wasn’t a loose impediment, so you couldn’t move it. So what do you do? If you run into the same situation again, you might want to consider declaring your ball unplayable (albeit with a 1-stroke penalty). Pick your poison…

As I walked up to a tee box, I noticed that a player before me had left a 'performance' tee in the ground. I recognized it and knew it was legal, so I decided to leave it right where it was and tee my ball on it. My friend said that what I was doing was illegal because I was technically using another player’s equipment. I told him I see people using leftover tees all the time. Is this legal, Ruler?

In the Rules of Golf, you never touch another man’s clubs. You may, however, use another man’s tees. Rule 4-4a prohibits players from borrowing clubs from another player on the course. However, Decision 5-1/5 allows a player to borrow things like balls, towels, gloves and tees. So as long as the tee was legal, you’re in the clear.