ETIQUETTE AT THE TEE BOX
Tee the ball and get set up for the drive; envision a beautiful arc down the fairway, and the bounce and roll that carries further still. Brava! The teeing area is like a stage, each golfer stepping up to perform, every drive a soliloquy of motion. Alas, poor golfer … sometimes we flub our lines. Well, that’s golf.
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The teeing area is a pretty staightforward piece of real estate, but like everywhere on the golf course, there are things to know. Learn the little details by heart, and then go ahead and deliver that top-flight performance.
Nine notable things to know and do around the teeing area
Brand your ball
Ever hit someone else’s ball on the course? You take 2 penalty strokes… and many self-inflicted lashes of embarrassment, regret and distraction. Save yourself! Before you begin your round, know what brand of ball you’re playing, tell the other players, and be sure to mark them with a distinctive squiggle, dot or initial. Golf is confusing enough.
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Ready or not
Has your group decided to play ready-golf? If so, there’s no order to players teeing off. Be aware, though, many golfers play honors; the player with the best score on the previous hole has the honor of teeing off first. If no one wins the hole, then the order of play does not change from the previous tee. Who tees first on the first hole? That’s often determined by random, or sometimes the player with the lowest handicap gets it going.
Hitting from the “ladies tees”
Stina Sternberg, former editor of Golf For Women Magazine and current TV golf personality, has some strong opinions about what tees to use and she shares them in her Golf Digest blog: “Ladies tees” is an out-dated term – like calling a flight attendant a stewardess. It might have been acceptable years ago, but today it’s insulting. Tees should have nothing to do with gender and everything to do with the golfer’s skill level. If you’re a short hitter, you should play from the forward tees, no matter your age or gender. It pains me to watch men who can’t hit the ball 200 yards off from the whites – or heaven forbid, the blues. The reverse is also true: Long hitters should move back, even women. I know many men who cringe when they play against a woman who bombs it from the reds. It’s a huge advantage”. Thanks, Stina.
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When someone’s teeing off, stand safely and courteously out of the way and out of her peripheral vision. Turn off your conversation and stand still, no banging of clubs, blowing of noses, sneezing, coughing or wiggling of anything. This is the theatre, remember?
Pretend you’re a caddie
Watch everyone’s drive and make note of the spot where each ball lands. Have you ever disowned your errant drive, its pathetic path too painful to watch? It’s great to have another pair of eyes. I always appreciate it when someone can quickly and accurately help me find a hidden ball.
When it’s your turn…
Have your club ready, and ball and tee in hand. Rule 11 defines the teeing area as “a rectangular area two clubs lengths in depth, the front and sides of which are defined by the outside limits of two tee markers”. Think of a rectangular box. You may stand outside the box, but your teed ball must be inside it.
When you’re done, attend to some housekeeping, filling in your divot with the sand mixture provided. Don’t forget to pick up your broken tee.
Curb your cart
Motorized carts should not be driven on the teeing area, and the best-mannered golfers will even leave their pull carts and carry bags off of it.
Just a wee bit of tee history
Early golfers made tees from piles of sand. At each teeing ground, courses provided sand in boxes as well as water so golfers could clean up. Sand tees are long gone, but the term “tee box” has remained and is now used by golfers to refer to the entire short-grassed area where a hole begins. A more accurate name would be “teeing area” or teeing ground”.
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Exit stage right, stage left, just exit!
When your group has finished driving, be ready to move out with dispatch. Show’s over.