The Rules of Golf – And You thought You Needed An Attorney To Rent A Car
There is no other sport I can think of that has such a dreaded, misunderstood and little followed set of moral and technical codes as does golf.
Admit it, many of you are avid golfers yet during a round something happens, as it relates to the rules, and you all stare at each other in an embarrassed state of Rule Ignorance. Don’t feel bad. Hell, the pros have to have a rules guru walking with their group or readily available on the golf course. These conduits to the past interpret the Royal and Ancient dialect known as The Rules of Golf.
I have searched the governing documents high and low for the rule that certainly must spell out the “Right to advance the ball by foot while no one is looking” process so prevalent nowadays. I have been equally stymied locating the precise bylaw governing the ever popular “Let me see if this ball nestled down in 5” inches of fescue is mine and while I’m at it I might as well give it a fluffy lie” procedure?
And remember, you can ground your club in one of Jack Nicklaus’ famous desert washes (that to any common observer look like sand traps) but you can’t do that anywhere in the sand dune “traps” of Whistling Straits (that to any sane observer are clearly not traps) or it may cost you a major tour victory ala Dustin Johnson at the 2010 PGA Championship.
If you are color blind then you have a whole other set of issues to confront. Red borders, yellow borders and white stakes, sometimes on the same whole, designate different penalties and remedies depending on the day of the week and the sex of your first born. You don’t have a first born? Hmmmm? I need to look it up.
Started with a Titleist but finished with a Nike? Violation. Too many clubs in your bag? Big no no. Can’t add your score correctly? Eviction. Touched your ball on the fringe? I can’t even imagine the penalty. And, I still don’t know if it’s worse to have hit it in the Pacific bordering the 18th at Pebble Beach or bouncing one in the pond fronting the green at my local muni. I think it’s the same but let me get back to you.
What if the Broadmoor bear that inhabits the Mountain Course claims my ball? Is that stroke and distance? A lost ball? Perhaps I play a provisional? And what of the Cabo San Lucas golf course iguanas who think your ball is their egg? Play it where it lies? And is that two club lengths when I drop apply to a plugged lie in a sand trap or is that when it’s embedded in the shore of the creek or on someone’s deck? Yea, better get back to you on those.
To top it all off, our rules differ from the pros. We get our butts saved by so called “Local Rules”. These rules allow us amateurs to cheat (and keep up the pace). Can’t hit the island green at the TPC Sawgrass? No problem just go drop on the other side and add a stroke. No need to channel Kevin Costner in Tin Cup and hit your last two sleeves of PRO V1’s into the gator infested moat.
I suggest on course advisors with every green fee, rules advice through the carts GPS or at least “an APP for that” as everyone is on their phone anyway. By the way…is there a rule against cell phone annoyance? I’ll have to get back to you.