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Ball Falling Off Tee

Rule 11-3, Ball Falling off Tee, is short and seems simple enough, but I guess that some readers may find it useful for me to compare the rulings of various similar scenarios that can occur on the teeing ground. First, the wording of Rule 11-3;

 If a ball, when not in play, falls off a tee or is knocked off a tee by the player in addressing it, it may be re-teed, without penalty. However, if a stroke is made at the ball in these circumstances, whether the ball is moving or not, the stroke counts, but there is no penalty.

Here are six teeing ground scenarios with differing rulings;

§ A player makes a practice swing close to his teed ball and accidentally hits it, moving it 100 yards down the fairway.

Ruling: The ball was not in play and there was no stroke made at it. No penalty has been incurred and the player must re-tee a ball anywhere within the teeing ground. Decision 18-2a/19.

§ A player makes a stroke at his teed ball and completely misses it (a ‘whiff’, or ‘fresh air’) but the ball topples off the tee.

Ruling: The stroke counts and the ball is in play. The player must play the ball as it lies. Definition of Stroke.

§ A player makes a stroke at his teed ball and his clubhead just touches it knocking it off the tee. The player picks-up the ball and re-tees it.

Ruling: The stroke counted and the ball was in play when it was picked-up, so the player should have played the ball where it lay. When he lifted the ball, he incurred a penalty of one stroke under Rule 18-2a and was required to replace it. However, when the player made a stroke at the re-teed ball, he effectively played a ball under penalty of stroke and distance (Rule 27-1a) overriding the penalty under Rule 18-2a.

§ A player addresses his teed ball and accidentally knocks it off the tee as he grounds his club behind it.

Ruling: The ball was not in play, so there was no penalty. The player must re-tee a ball anywhere within the teeing ground to make their first stroke on that hole. Rule 11-3.

§ A player addresses his teed ball and completes his backswing for a stroke, but as he begins the forward movement the ball falls off the tee; he is able to abort his stroke, swinging over the ball without touching it.

Ruling: No stroke has been made and no penalty incurred. The ball has not been put in play, so the player can re-tee a ball anywhere on the teeing ground. Definition of Stroke.

Note: See this earlier blog of mine for more on this scenario.

§ A player addresses his teed ball, completes his backswing and as he begins the forward movement of his swing the ball falls off the tee; he tries to abort his stroke, but tops it forward a few yards.

Ruling: The stroke counts, because the player started his stroke with the forward movement and was not then able to check his downswing before his clubhead reached the ball. The player must play his second stroke from where the ball comes to rest. Definition of Stroke.

Good golfing,