A friendly game of golf

Contributing Columnist

A suggestion was made to me the other day to elaborate on the difference between a friendly game of golf and one that maintains strict adherence to the Rules of the game. From personal experience, there is a huge contrast between the two forms.

Let’s assume the friendly game, or recreational round, progresses something like this:A, B, C and D are ready for their friendly game. All of the players are at the first tee. Despite the fact that several foursomes are lined up in wait to tee off behind this group, each of the competitors will hit two tee shots. That means eight tee shots must be struck. I guess the “mulligans” are almost mandatory; and a choice must be made by each player as to which of the two tee balls he will use to play out the first hole Where the notion of a choice of balls to play ever came into being is beyond me; also beyond any Rule that ever existed.

Player A’s ball ended up behind a tree. The little kick or gently pushing the ball into the clear involves no penalty. After all, this is just a friendly game. B’s ball came to rest under a huge shrub. Have no fear—B is entitled to throw his ball back into the fairway. A, B, C and D do not believe in penalties. There isn’t any room for penalties in a friendly game.

C’s ball landed in a bunker. Since he failed in his first attempt to extricate the ball from the sand, he was, of course, permitted to throw the ball out of the sand. I’m not quite sure whether this throw counted as a stroke, but it was deftly done, leaving C with a putt of nine feet.

Meanwhile D hit his second shot into the water lateral to the fairway. D could not find his ball in the water, but fortunately he did find another ball while raking alongside the water hazard. Finding a different ball meant that, again, there was no penalty and he was certainly allowed to finish the hole with the newly found ball. The fact that his new ball had two black streaks on it designating it as a range ball meant little to D. Obviously, since raking successfully produced a new ball, D continued raking down the later water hazard, although to no avail. By the way, D arrived at the first green several minutes after the other three men in the group had finished the hole.

Delay meant little to D.

Remember, C had a putt of nine feet. That is just about the outer limits of a “gimme.” Neither A or B said “good” and D was nowhere in sight, nevertheless, C personally vouched for the fact that he was in “gimme” range.

Since C “took” a nine-foot putt, A and B felt it expedient to agree to “gimmes” for their own putts. A was about 11 feet from the cup, and B was barely able to distinguish the position of the hole without the flag, but he said he could clearly make it out and that was tantamount to a “gimme.”

Six-and-a-half hours later, the foursome struggled into the clubhouse to review their outing and tally up their scores. The scores ranged from 85 to 92. Their loudest complaint was that play was exceedingly slow today.The one positive factor in their round of golf was that hopefully they found it enjoyable. It had no resemblance to golf nor did their scores have any relevance to their proficiency nor did it reflect on their ability to play the game. Recreational golf is important to most of us and most of us play according to the Rules as we know and understand them. Primarily, we should try to make it comfortable not only for ourselves, but for those groups playing behind us. It is a gentleman’s game and should be played with consideration for everybody on the course. Adherence to the Rules makes that possible.

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