You’re on a par-3 tee and the shot you’re facing is either a hard 7-iron or soft 6-iron. You’re between clubs, so to speak. The 7-iron might get you there and the 6-iron might put you above the hole in three-putt territory. We’ll spare you the swing advice you might need to overcome this dilemma, and instead focus on a ‘hack’ you might not have realised: you don’t have to play from exactly between the tee markers. In fact, you can play from up to 2.4 metres, give or take a centimetre, behind the markers and still be considered in the teeing area – it’s within the Rules of Golf and we’ll explain.

First, understand that the teeing area is defined as “a rectangle that is two club-lengths deep where the front edge is defined by the line between the forward-most points of two tee-markers set by the committee, and the side edges are defined by the lines back from the outside points of the tee-markers”.

In other words, if you were hovering a drone over the top of a tee, picture a rectangular “zone” where you’re allowed to play your tee shot from. And the key word in the preceding paragraph is “club length”. Just because you’re deciding between a 6-iron and a 7-iron, that doesn’t mean you have to use the one you choose to measure the distance behind the markers you’re allowed to play from. In fact, a “club length” is a recent change to the Rules of Golf under Definitions. It now states that the longest club in your bag, other than your putter, is considered a “club length” when measuring for relief. In most cases it’s going to be your driver and, as the rules have specified, that club can be no longer than 48 inches (although there is a local rule that can reduce the length allowed to 46).

So when you do the maths, two club-lengths using a 48-inch driver is 96 inches, or 2.43 metres. Meaning, assuming your driver is 48 inches (it’s actually probably about 45 inches), you’re able to tee a ball nearly two-and-a-half metres behind the markers. And maybe those two-and-a-half metres will make just enough of a difference that going with a 6-iron instead of a 7-iron puts you a lot closer to pin-high.

What would happen if you went a bit too far in your estimation of the zone and played from beyond the teeing area or in front of it, for that matter? In matchplay, your opponent/s can cancel your stroke and you’d have to play again from inside the teeing area (no penalty). If your opponent/s don’t care about your gaffe, you continue to play the ball you played from outside the teeing area. In strokeplay, you are required to correct the mistake by playing again from inside the teeing area, but you get a two-stroke penalty.


Here’s a crafty (but legal) way to take relief and get your ball into a much better lie

What’s it called now? A quick refresher in rules terminology

When taking relief, when do I drop the ball and when should I place it?

My opponent is acting like a tool. Do the rules say anything about unsportsmanlike conduct?

Can I clean mud off my ball while playing a hole?

My ball’s in the water, and it’s on the move! What are my options?

My opponent looks like he’s whipper-snippering as he searches for a lost ball. When is that a penalty?

My ball is in bounds but an OB stake is interfering with my shot. Can I move the stake?

Can I be penalised for delaying play if I stop to get a hotdog or a drink?

When am I allowed to substitute a golf ball on the course?

I stopped my swing before hitting the ball. Does that count as a stroke?

I hit myself with my own ball. Embarrassment aside, is that a penalty?

What happens in a match when no one knows how to apply a rule?

My opponent stopped my ball from rolling on purpose. Is that a penalty?

While waiting to play a shot, my opponent is killing time by chipping a ball. Is this allowed?

My ball is in a penalty area, so what are my options for taking a drop?

Can I be penalised if someone else improves my lie?

Can you repair divot holes or pitch marks in your line before hitting a shot?

I just played the wrong ball. What do I do now?

What do I do if my ball just hit another ball on the green?

What do you do when the tee markers aren’t lined up or are missing?

Somebody just picked up my golf ball! Now what?

Crazy things that only happen in matchplay

Can you hit a provisional ball after hitting a shot into a penalty area?

Your club breaks, what are your options?

My opponent took a generous drop after hitting into a penalty area. Can he be DQ’d for that?

Can I use a long putter when measuring my relief area?

Our practice putting green sucks. Can I hit a few putts on the course before my round?

I had an extra club in my bag and I just teed off. Now what?

Can I move a stone if it improves my lie?

Are you smart enough to ace this basic rules quiz?

Do I get relief from aeration holes?

What does ‘known or virtually certain’ really mean?

Do you have to use a putter on the green?

You’re playing a Srixon. Two holes later it’s a Callaway. Is switching golf balls mid-round allowed?

I hit a horrible shot. I’m waaaaaay better off if I don’t find the ball. Can I just declare it lost?

I’m on the green, my opponent is not. Who’s away?

Is sneaking a peek in another player’s bag considered getting advice?

What do I do if my golf ball is stuck in a tree?

I conceded a putt. My opponent putted anyway and missed. Is that a penalty?

What is casual water and how do I play around it?

I thought my ball was lost and put another in play then found my first ball… which ball counts?

What happens if I can’t tell my provisional ball from my original?

What exactly is an embedded ball?

How do I find my ‘nearest point of relief’?

How long can I take to hit a shot?

Does a ball have to be unplayable to declare it unplayable?