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6
Playing a Hole
Purpose: Rule 6 covers how to play a hole – such as the specific Rules for teeing off to start a hole, the requirement to use the same ball for an entire hole except when substitution is allowed, the order of play (which matters more in match play than stroke play) and completing a hole.
6
Playing a Hole
6.1

Starting Play of a Hole

6.1b(1)/1
Ball Played from Outside Teeing Area in Match Play and Stroke Not Cancelled by Opponent
If, in starting the play of the hole in match play, a stroke made from outside the teeing area is not cancelled, Rule 6.1b(1) provides that the player plays the ball as it lies. However, the player may not always be permitted to play the ball as it lies. For example, when starting play of a hole, a player hits a ball out of bounds from outside the teeing area (such as from a wrong set of tee-markers) and the opponent does not cancel the stroke. Since, the player's stroke is not cancelled, and the ball is out of bounds, he or she must take stroke-and-distance relief by playing a ball from where the previous stroke was made. However, as the stroke was not made from inside the teeing area, the ball must be dropped, not teed (see Rule 14.6b - Previous Stroke from General Area, Penalty Area or Bunker).
6.1/1
What to Do When One or Both Tee-Markers Are Missing
If a player finds one or both tee-markers missing, the player should seek help from the Committee. However, if that help is not available in a reasonable time, the player should use his or her reasonable judgment (Rule 1.3b(2)) to estimate the location of the teeing area. Recognizing that such an estimation must be made promptly and cannot be precise, the player’s reasonable judgment of the location of the teeing area will be accepted even if later shown to be wrong (Rule 1.3b(2)).
6.2

Playing Ball from Teeing Area

6.2b(4)/1
Tee-Marker Moved by Player Should be Replaced
Before making a stroke when playing from a teeing area, a player must not move a tee-marker in the teeing area to improve the conditions affecting the stroke (Rule 6.2b(4)). However, there would be no penalty if a player moves a tee-marker by:
  • Tripping over it,
  • Hitting it in anger (though a Committee could consider this serious misconduct), or
  • Lifting it for no apparent reason.
Because moving tee-markers can have a significant effect on the competition, they should not be moved and, if they are moved, they should be replaced. However, if a player moves a tee-marker because he or she thinks it should be in a different position, or deliberately destroys the tee-marker, the Committee may choose to disqualify the player for serious misconduct contrary to the spirit of the game (Rule 1.2a).
6.2b(6)/1
Ball That Comes to Rest in Teeing Area Does Not Have to Be Played as it Lies
Any time a player's ball is inside the teeing area, the player may move the ball to another spot within the teeing area, and may play it from a tee without penalty. For example, a player makes his or her first stroke from the teeing area, barely making contact with the ball, and the ball either comes to rest on the ground within the teeing area or remains on the tee. Since the ball is in the teeing area, the player may play the ball as it lies or, even though the ball is in play, may move the ball to any other spot within the teeing area and play from there without penalty. The player may also place the ball on a tee or adjust the height of the tee the ball is resting on.
6.3

Ball Used in Play of Hole

6.3a/1
What to Do When Balls Exchanged at Unknown Place
If, after holing out, two players discover that they finished a hole with the other player's ball but cannot establish whether the balls were exchanged during play of the hole, there is no penalty. For example, after play of a hole, it was discovered that Player A holed out with Player B's ball and Player B holed out with Player A's ball. Both players are certain they holed out with the ball they played from the teeing area. In this situation, and because a player is allowed to start each hole with any conforming ball (Rule 6.3a), it should be determined that the balls were exchanged before play on that hole began, unless there is evidence to the contrary.
6.3c(1)/1
Meaning of “Penalty Strokes Solely From Playing That Ball”
When the strokes made at a particular ball do not count in the player's score, any penalty strokes that the player gets while playing that ball do not count unless the player gets a penalty that could also apply to his or her ball in play. Examples of penalties that are disregarded because they could not also apply to the ball in play include:
  • Deliberately touching or causing the ball to move (Rule 9.4).
  • The Player's caddie standing behind the player while taking a stance (Rule 10.2b(4)).
  • Touching sand in the backswing for the stroke (Rule 12.2b(2)).
Examples of penalties that are not disregarded because they also apply to the ball in play include:
6.4

Order of Play When Playing Hole

6.4c/1
Stroke Cannot be Cancelled When Provisional Ball Played Out of Turn from Teeing Area
If a player who has the honour decides to play a provisional ball after his or her opponent has played a provisional ball, the player may not cancel the opponent's stroke with the provisional ball under Rule 6.4a(2). For example, Player A has the honour and plays first from the teeing area. Player B (the opponent) plays next and since his or her ball may be out of bounds, decides to play a provisional ball and does so. After Player B plays the provisional ball, Player A decides that he or she will also play a provisional ball. Since Player A only made his or her intentions to play a provisional ball known after Player B had played, Player A has abandoned the right to cancel Player B's stroke with the provisional ball. However, Player A may still play a provisional ball.
6.5

Completing Play of a Hole

6.5/1
Another Ball Played After Hole Was Unknowingly Completed
When a player has holed out, the play of that hole is completed and the player gets no penalty for playing another ball. For example:
  • Being unable to find his or her ball, the player puts another ball in play or concedes the hole (the concession is not valid as the hole is completed).
  • After searching for his or her ball for three minutes, the player cannot find it and continues play with a provisional ball.
  • Believing it is the original ball, the player plays a wrong ball.
If the player did not know the hole was completed and attempts to complete play of the hole with another ball, the player's further play is not considered practice (Rule 5.5a).
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