Who Tees Off First In Golf? The Basic Rules For Opening

In casual or recreational golf matches, golfers are free to choose their own method of determining who tees off first.

This could be a game of rock paper scissors, flipping a coin, or simply allowing the player who is ready to go first.

However, in competitive golf, the rules of the game employs a general method for determining the order of play. According to 10-1 rule, in match play golfers should play in the following order:

Who Tees Off First In Golf?

When it comes to the first hole, the player who tees off first is usually listed on a scorecard which is determined by the committee. If this cannot happen, the player to tee off first is decided by other fair means such as a coin flip or by lot. After the first tee, the player that wins a hole gets to play first on the next tee. 

Traditionally, it is taught that the player who has the best gross score on the previous hole, or the winner of the hole in match play gets the ‘privilege’ or ‘honor’ to tee off first. On the other hand, if there is no winner of a hole then the order of play does not change from the last tee.

In golf, the term used for teeing off first is honor; quite fancy. Players should get the lowest score in order to decide who wins the honor of teeing first.

After the first few shots, the ball farthest from the hole plays first, despite whether the golf ball is on the green or not.

Now, the order at which tee off is determined is through the players’ rankings. This entails the number of wins, major championships, years on tour and FedEx Cup list. These rankings will help to sort the players in groups and it also determine the time each player will go off.

Who Shoots Next?

Once the players hit their drives (hole one usually a par 4) the players walk out into the course to find the balls they hit. Now you may be asking, who shoots next?

The person who shoots first in this case is the one farthest away from the hole. The other players will stand safely behind or to one side of the player taking the shot. They will wait until it is their turn. This rule is one of the basic etiquette guidelines in golf.

Rules for Putting On the Green.

Players should not putt first if they are closest to the hole. However, they may need to tend the flagstick for a playing partner. A common practice is that the player closest to the hole should take the flagstick out once all players are on the green.

Now you may be wondering, can you mark your ball before every player is on the green? The answer is yes. You can get an authorized person to mark your ball or simply do it yourself.

A player’s caddie is the ideal authorized person to mark your golf ball on the green. The Caddy or Caddie is the one responsible for carrying a player’s bags, clubs, and will sometime give the player advice and moral support.

Therefore, the Caddy is the perfect person to get the job done if you are not able to mark the ball on the green yourself.

It’s important to note that there are other several etiquette rules when players are on the green.

For example, players should not make footmarks. They should avoid walking and putting through other peoples lines, avoid putting holes that other people are using, and don’t set up a big putting drill if the green is small and busy.

Who Putts First If Someone Is Off The Green?

Rule 10-1b clearly states that the golf player farther from the hole plays first regardless of the position. That is after everyone has teed off. So if someone is off the green, the rule still applies since everyone has teed off.

As regarding to penalties, you wont see any in match play for playing out of turn. On the other hand, your opponent can make you cancel and replay your shot. Playing out of order doesn’t really cause a player a penalty.

Does It Matter Going First In golf

In most cases it doesn’t really matter who tees off first. The order of play however can help a player develop a strategy.

You should also be aware that players may not be ready to tee off because of unfortunate circumstances. In this case, whoever is ready to play, provided that the coast is clear should go first. This is known as “ready golf”.

This rule is accepted by the United States Golf Association. Not only does teeing off first help you to develop a better strategy, but it also helps to catch up with the group in front of you.

How Much Time Do You Have To Tee Off

Players should arrive at the starting point at the the time the committee sets out. In golf, players are not only penalized for teeing off late, but they may also get a penalty for teeing off early too.

If a player decides to tee off more than 5 minutes late or more than 5 minutes earlier than the allotted tee time, that player is disqualified.

The general penalty of 2 strokes is applied to the golfer if he or she tees off less than 5 minutes early or less than 5 minutes late from the starting time set out by the committee.

The penalty for showing up late will often result in disqualification unless there are unique exceptions. What count as an exception you may ask?

Well, it’s definitely not a traffic jam or flat tire. These circumstances typically entail medical assistance if you are met in an accident, or any life threatening emergencies that will set you off track. Make sure to bring a witness!

Players should take no more than 40 seconds to hit a shot from when its their turn. This means when the shot of the preceding player stops at its resting place, then the proceeding player is advised to have 40 seconds to hit his shot.

Now, if your round begins say on par 4, you should wait until the group ahead of you has gotten to the green before making your shot.

Showing up 30 minutes before your tee time might be the best choice to make so that you can familiarize yourself with the surrounding. You may even do a couple practice shots for warm up. When you arrive there, its a good idea to check in with the starter to let him or her know you are there. The starter is usually in the golf shop or near the first tee.

What Tee Box Should You Play From?

Now that we know who tees of first in a golf game, it’s important to know what tee box you should play from.

The United States Golf Association advises that golf players select a tee that best fits their playing ability as it will ultimately lead to a more enjoyable game.

A general principle to determine which tee box is right for you is to play from the closest tee if you hit your driver under 200 yards. Similarly, if you hit your driver between 200 to 225 yards, then you should play from the next farthest tee, and so on.

If you hit your driver more than 275 yards accurately, then you should be playing the farthest tees back.

The list below will help you choose the correct golf tee box. This is useful for those just starting out

When it comes to the color tees, you should know that white tees are often the furthest from the hole while the blue colored tees are the nearest. Depending on which tee you are playing from, the stroke index for a round will be different.

White colored tees are often used by most average golf players and are meant for players who can drive the golf ball as far as 200 to 250 yards. The farthest tees from the hole are the blue tees. Blue tees are reserved for the more experienced golfer; those with remarkable driving range.

Is There A Penalty For Playing Out Of Turn

As we’ve discussed before, players are not penalized for playing out of turn in a stroke play. However, there may be rare events where the committee decides that an agreement to play out of turn was made to benefit a player. This is known as a caveat and both players can be disqualified. Such events are highly unlikely though.

Just like in match play, if your opponent plays out of turn, you can insist that the shot be canceled. For example, if he hits a great shot like a pin high, then you could invoke the rule. However, if your opponent shank the ball into the woods, then you wouldn’t need to invoke the rule.


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