If you whiff on the tee, can you keep the ball teed up?


What do the rules say about keeping a ball teed up after a whiff?

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The Rules of Golf are tricky! Thankfully, we’ve got the guru. Our Rules Guy knows the book front to back. Got a question? He’s got all the answers.

Here was a new one on me. Tee-shot downswing, my foot slips and I whiff. This stroke counts, I know — but can I take my next swing with the ball still on the tee? What if, theoretically, I’d knocked the ball off the tee with my body when I fell over? —David Vecht, Los Altos, CA

Theoretically? Really? Regardless, Rules Guy searched YouTube for footage of your misadventure but came up empty — too bad, as we needed a laugh.

If the ball stays within the teeing area you can then play the ball from anywhere else within the teeing area, and the ball may be teed or not — your choice.

There is also no penalty for accidentally moving the ball when you fall over — again, so long as the ball is still in the teeing area after your whiff. You are indeed playing your second stroke. Stay balanced.

golfer in drop zone

Rules Guy: What is the penalty for using a tee in the drop area?


Rules Guy

For more tee-related guidance from our guru, read on …

Tee boxes can get hard and difficult to get a tee into the ground. I was told that at a local course a player brings a cordless drill to pre-drill a hole to get his tee in the ground. Is something like this legal? — Marc Cardillo, via email

The teeing area is a special place — that’s why Rules Guy proposed to his beloved on one — in part because you can make alterations to its surface, under Rule 6.2b(3).

This drilling is thus merely a louder and less elegant version of Dame Laura Davies creating a mound of turf to tee off from by tapping her driver on the ground.

In days of yore, courses would put a bucket of sand on the tee; players would make a small pile from the stuff and perch their gutta percha upon it. Maybe now it’s time for a power strip.

Need help unriddling the greens at your home course? Pick up a custom Green Book from 8 AM Golf affiliate Golf Logix.

Got a question about the Rules? Ask the Rules Guy! Send your queries, confusions and comments to We promise he won’t throw the book at you.

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