You Are Too Early for, Late for or Missed Your Tee Time – Penalties and Consequences Examined

If you’ve read the previous article, then you are well aware what tee time is about. But what happens when you show up at a golf course without one? Or, you have a tee time but showed up late or missed it entirely. What now? Let’s examine the penalties involved when committing one of the mentioned scenarios.

Showing up at a course without a tee time

Let’s assume that you want to play golf and just went straight to a golf course without a reserving for a tee time. What could possibly happen?

One of the following could happen:

  • You are admitted – meaning the course didn’t require a tee time reservation and that you are permitted to proceed. Or, the course does require a tee time reservation but are okay with you having to book for it upon arrival.
  • You are turned away – meaning the course turned out requiring a tee time reservation in advance before admission.

Golf courses have varying policies regarding tee times, so remember to check on them beforehand.

Showing up late for or missing a reserved recreational tee time

So you have reserved for a tee time but arrived/showed up late for it. What now?

There are two things that could happen here;

  1. Long wait – meaning you get to play golf, but not on the time you booked for since you essentially missed it by being late. The golf course will try, with no certainty, to put you on a time slot that doesn’t affect others’ tee time schedule which could mean a long wait. Or,
  2. Risk not playing – meaning you will not be able to play at all, this is especially the case when there’s no other slot to fit you in, like in a busy golf course.

Showing up late for or missing a tournament tee time

This scenario is quite different as there are a set of Golf rules that penalize any player who’s late for or misses a tee time. This is covered in Rule 5.3. Let’s have a look at what the rule says and the penalties attached.

  • Be on time – meaning the rule expects you to start at your starting time, not before or after.
  • Disqualification – meaning you could get disqualified by breaching this rule, with exception to specific cases like;
    • Less than five (5) minutes late – meaning arrive and ready to play no more than five (5) minutes from your tee time call. In such a case, your first hole is affected by the general penalty.
    • Less than five (5) minutes early – meaning started too soon. Your first hole is also affected by the general penalty in this scenario.

What is a general penalty?

In a stroke play, it means losing two strokes. While in match play, it means losing a hole.

Check out Rule 5.3 in the Rules of Golf for further reading.

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