The start of a golf hole -- played from a space called the tee box or teeing ground -- is the only time golfers are allowed to tee up their golf ball. Everywhere else on the golf course, a player has to hit the ball from the ground on which their ball sits (even if after a drop).
So, given that teeing up the golf ball is typically an advantage for a golfer, you'd think a golfer would always tee up their golf ball when teeing off on a golf hole.
However, while teeing up a golf ball often works in favor of a golfer, that's not universally true. So, if a golfer chooses, are golfers allowed to not use a tee when teeing off?
Do golfers have to use a tee when they tee off?
Under the Rules of Golf, a golfer does not have to use a tee when teeing off from a hole.
A golfer has to place their ball within the size of the tee box, but they don't have to put the ball on a tee. They can place the ball on the ground. They can also create their own tee from a clump of dirt, which is something Dame Laura Davies does to this day.
Sometimes it makes sense to not tee up the ball, particularly on a par 3, when a golfer might prefer to hit a short iron or a wedge directly off the turf. It also can make sense to not use a tee when a player is intentionally seeking to hit the ball low off the ground to get it to run out in the fairway.
The great news is that the Rules of Golf are flexible when it comes to using a tee in the tee box.