IN SEARCH OF THE
WORST RULES IN GOLF
We have asked the question
“What is the worst rule in golf” in our “Topics” section and a few
of our readers and contributors have emailed us their thoughts.
I still want to hear from many others on this subject so let us
know your opinions. Knowing and understanding the rules of golf
might be the most difficult part of golf to learn. Hitting balls,
taking lessons, practicing your putting is really fun, but, sitting
and reading about the rules is something most golfers just don't
find time to do. I think the TV networks have done a pretty good
job helping to explain rules and the decisions on rules in their
short segments during tournament telecasts and many golfers will
find themselves playing from time to time with a stickler
on the rules. This is how I learned the rules, from a stickler.
So let's examine the input from our three email participants.
Al Tompkins of Taylors , South Carolina
, a finleyongolf.com contributor (see his article,
“A Game of Civility”) has considerable experience with the game
of golf as an active participant and formerly as a PGA tournament
coordinator. Just recently he had a particular on course experience
for the first time. He had previously seen the touring pros encounter
this situation and he obviously got a little warm under the collar
when it happened to him. Al offered the following:
I knew the
rule was there. I even read it several times while really looking
for another rule. I've imagined touring pros thinking nasty thoughts
while looking down and contemplating their situation. I've even
lip read a few. But, I never thought too much of it. Why… simply
because in my 40+ years of playing golf my ball had never landed
in a fairway divot…until last week.
I hit a drive
of about 230 yards to the left center of the fairway, just where
I aimed it (I love target golf). When I arrived at my ball, I
not only saw that it had found a divot, but it was also sitting
on top of a one-inch pile of sand that had been left there by
a earlier player with an over exuberant sand can. Or maybe it
was a member of the grounds crew, who knows.
I had hit,
what was for me a perfect drive, in my own fairway, and now I
had to hit my second shot, out of a mini-bunker. Not fair! Yeah,
I know about the rub of the green and all that, but a divot, filled
or not, is not fairway, it's really ground under repair .
When there is regulated ground under repair, it is so designated,
and you can drop one club length, no nearer the hole. You can
do it around a burrowing animal hole (as an aside I used to play
with friends, when I lived in Virginia, who found burrowing animals
everywhere…you would have thought it was an epidemic or an invasion
of furry rodents).
In my opinion,
if your ball lands, in your own fairway (not “through the green”)
and it lands in a divot, filled with sand or au natural, the rules
should treat it as ground under repair. Drop within one club length
or one score card length or directly adjacent to the divot, whatever,
no nearer the hole .
I am a believer
in the rules of golf and try to play by them (I even called a
double hit on myself last week which no one saw). But in the future,
if I land in a divot in my own fairway, I may claim a very local
rule, D.U.R. (Divot Under Repair).
Well done, Al, I agree 100%.
I have read or seen tips about how to play such a shot. Probably
the best advice I can remember is to play the ball back in your
stance and hit down and through the ball. Hit the ball first, then
turf. If the ball is sitting on sand, toe the club in toward the
target line and put a hook swing on the ball. This will create a
more sweeping type swing which will help pick the ball off the top
of the sand. On this shot you'll need to play the ball to go right
to left. Lastly, play winter rules so you can move your ball. This
is not the purist approach but most clubs have a local rule that
allows for moving your ball one club length in your own fairway
when the turf is dormant.
Now let's see what Fred Kitchens
from Galax, Virginia had to offer:
your article, “The Rules of Golf, It's Time for a Dose of Medicine”
just recently, I was reminded of just how unfair the rule is that
prevents the removal of loose impediments from bunkers. What in
the world is wrong with removing a half eater pear that sits behind
your ball in a bunker? Apparently the rules allow for the removal
of a man made, manufactured item such as a candy wrapper or a
crumpled pack of cigarettes. This is one case where the Royal
and Ancient might have a better grip on the rules if they permit
the removal of such items. The biggest problem with this rule
is not really with the half eaten pear or apple but with a stone,
a stick or pine cone. These items being part of nature and very
prevalent on a golf course do come into play. What can be wrong
with removing a stick that has fallen from a tree and sits behind
Thanks Fred, and again, I
am in agreement. In fact, this is one change in Rule 23 that I believe
should be made by the USGA and some day it will be changed. Our
other input came from Jack Cobb of Columbus , Ohio . He wrote the
I never have really understood is why a restroom on our course
near a green is considered an integral part of the course and
line of play relief is not allowed. The building does come into
play as wayward shots on a usual long approach do end up on the
opposite side from the hole. Now I do understand that one gets
relief if the facility interferes with your stance or swing but
why not when the ball is behind it and you can't see the green?
As I understand this situation,
Jack, a local rule determined by the “committee” defines the restroom
facility as an integral part of the course or not. If deemed an
integral part of the course you would not get a line of sight or
line of play relief. The committee could allow for a line of play
relief if it felt that to be a more fair and equitable application
of the rule (see rule 24, “Obstructions”). A former home course
of mine had these large, electric power transmission towers that
ran through the edge of the course. Our committee deemed that line
of play relief was a reasonable solution for one who found a tower
in his way. By the way I have hit many a high, lofted wedge shot
over restrooms, trees or anything else (except power poles) that
was between me and where I needed to go and I'm sure you have too.
With enough clearance it can be done. Finally, ask your head professional
about this. He is probably the “committee” at your club.
My biggest problem with this
rule is the lack of any relief from a stake or fence designating
out of bounds. How many times have I found myself up against an
OB fence without a swing, without relief except by penalty? Please,
golf gods, give us relief from these OB markers.
Thanks, fellow golfers, for
January 31, 2005
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