Friday, September 25 2020


The Rules of Golf

Update: March, 05/2017 - 09:00
Viet Nam News

by Robert Bicknell

The Rules of Golf have long been a bone of contention with players, both amateurs and at the professional level. Many find the rules to be archaic and out of touch with reality, some go so far as to claim the Rules of Golf are the main reason why golf is on a decline among younger people.

To be fair, given today’s permissive society which seem to get offended or discriminated against for almost everything, it’s understandable why they would chafe when it comes to following rules. I guess they get upset when they cannot improve their lie, have to count every stroke, or fail to receive a “participation trophy” just for entering a tournament.

Other people who hate the Rules of Golf are those who invent some device or piece of “revolutionary equipment” which are deemed “non-conforming” by the governing bodies. I’m sure you have seen some of the advertisements for golf balls which fly further, or new drivers which promise huge increases in length…

I actually tried one of these new revolutionary balls…I drove it over 400 yards.

They claim the Rules are restrictive and stop people from having fun at the game. Some have even tried suing the USGA/R&A claiming their Rules are restricting their ability to make a living selling these items. Naturally, 99.999 per cent of these claims never even see the inside of a courtroom, unless the judge is a hacker who cannot break 120 or drive the ball past the red tees.

My narrow-minded and ultra conservative view is that, for the most part, the Rules of Golf are fine as they are and the concept of golf should remain pure.

That’s not to say that I feel the Rules should not be changed from time to time and that I don’t find some of them to be ridiculous. There are many rules I find idiotic and cause unnecessary irritation or delays. But, as players, we have the option of not applying the rules strictly when playing for fun with our friends. In tournaments or organized events, yes, follow the rules. If submitting a card for handicap purposes – follow the rules. Otherwise, just go and have fun.

One Rule they are considering changing is allowing players to repair damage to the green before a putt. Yes, this means you WOULD be able to tap down spike marks in the future. Currently, nope.

Many caddies have caused their player a two-stroke penalty by touching the line of putt. The proposed change eliminates this penalty. Again, this would be a good change.

Removing the penalty for you ball striking the flagstick when playing a shot on the green. Another good one change.

A proposed change will allow you to ground your club in a hazard or remove loose impediments without penalty. At present, it is a two-stroke penalty. No, you cannot ground your club in a bunker, but you CAN remove loose impediments. Good change.

If your ball hits you, your equipment of your caddie, there will be no penalty under the proposed changes. Just play the ball as it lies. NO, you cannot intentionally redirect the ball. I’m OK with this change too.

They also want to change how we drop the ball. Before it was from shoulder height. The new proposal allows you to drop from an inch above the surface. The only requirement is the ball “falls through the air”. However, the ball must stay within the relief area.

They propose changing the rule governing searching for a lost ball from five minutes to three minutes. YES… I agree one billion per cent. If it were up to me, 30 seconds MAX. I have no patience.

They expanded relief for an embedded ball from “through the green” to “anywhere in the general area” except sand. Interesting, but OK.

GPS and Laser Rangefinders will be legal unless a local rule prohibits them. I wonder if the rangefinder rule includes the ones which add in slope…?

You WILL be able to use a club damaged in anger if this proposed change goes through. In the past, you could only change a club damaged in the course of play…

GREAT… now I can unwrap my putter from around the tree and continue using it…

Please check out the proposed changes at the USGA and R&A websites. VNS






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