The importance of ‘The Rules of Golf’

Contributing Columnist

Today’s column will try to demonstrate the importance of The Rules of Golf. Understanding the terms used in the Rules of Golf is of prime importance. For example the following differences in word usage are:

• May = optional
• Should = recommended
• Must = instructed (and penalty if not carried out)
• A ball = you may substitute another ball (e.g. Rules 26,27, or 28)
• The ball = you may not substitute another ball (e.g. Rules 24-2 or 25-1)

The above words appear in almost all of the rules.

Section I relates to etiquette in the game. Section II of the rules book concerns definitions. I think this is the foundation for all the rules that follow. There are 61 definitions in Section II. There are 34 rules in Section III, the basis for actual play. The final sections are the appendices; Appendix I concerns Local Rules, Conditions of Competition. Appendix II involves the Design of Clubs, while Appendix III specifies regulations for the ball. The final section of the rulebook concerns the rules of Amateur Status.

I hope I haven’t confused my readers, but playing by the rules helps to maintain the integrity of the game, hence it is important for the player to acquaint himself and herself with the rules. It isn’t necessary to know each rule, but it is important to familiarize yourself with those rules that most often come into play. Remember, carry a copy of The Rules of Golf in your golf bag.

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In a more humorous mode, here are a few suggestions for future publication:
1. How to line up your fourth putt.
2. How to hit a Top-Flite from the rough when you hit a Titleist from the tee.
3. How to avoid the water when you lie 8 in the bunker.
4. How to get more distance out of a shank.
5. Crying and how to handle it.
6. How to rationalize a seven-hour round.
7. How to find a ball that everyone else saw go into the water.
8. How to let a foursome play through your twosome without getting embarrassed.
9. How to relax when you are hitting 3 off the tee.
10. When you should regrip your ball retriever.

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From a reader comes this inquiry:

My approach flew long and my friend found my ball in very high grass behind the green. We verified it was my ball and I took a hack at it. My friend said, “Nice shot,” which I thought was sarcastic because I saw a ball fly out short and left. Turns out that my ball was a few feet from the pin. I had also dislodged a second ball, unseen by either of us before my swing. I putted out for par, but did I incur a penalty for striking two balls?

The answer is there is no penalty. In accordance with Decision 15/2, you are not responsible for abandoned balls that you accidentally dislodge from their hiding places. Not only are you not penalized for hitting the “wrong” ball, you are also not required to hit your ball again, so you were free to putt out. That means that your shot was twice as good. Not only did you save par, but you also got to pocket a free ball.

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