On Saturday afternoon I rushed onto the mat at the first tee, having grabbed the first tee I could find.  Unfortunately it was too high for the mat and as I commenced my back swing the tee toppled over and the ball fell off!  I hadn’t even had the opportunity to take a swipe at it!  Needless to say, this had my playing partners in stitches.  I teed it up and bombed it down the middle of the fairway… I wish!  In reality I hooked it, but it got us talking about the rules of golf and some of the changes that were made in 2019.

Zach Johnston had an awkward moment during the second round of the 2019 Masters.  Whilst taking a practice swing on the 13th tee he accidentally clipped the ball, knocking it into the tee marker and launching the ball off to the left!

Here’s a video of the incident:

(warning – there’s some bad language from Johnston!)

An embarrassed Johnson, unsure of the rules, was told by fellow golfers Matt Kuchar and Ian Poulter the swing didn’t count, as the shot wasn’t intentional – the ball could be re-teed.

Under Rule 6.2b(5) on starting a hole: “If a teed ball falls off the tee or is knocked off the tee by the player before the player has made a stroke at it, it may be re-teed anywhere in the teeing area without penalty.”

What happens if you accidentally move your ball when you’re taking a practice swing on the fairway, or on the green?

Fortunately former European Tour chief referee John Paramor has the answers to these questions.   (He deals with practice swings on the teeing area in the first two minutes, so you can fast-forward to 2 mins 15 secs if you want to get straight to the fairway and green answers.)