Do You Own a Rule Book?

Do You Own a Rule Book?

If you do, have you ever actually opened it and tried to read it? It is not the easiest piece of literature to get around but neither are the rules in baseball, basketball, football or ice hockey for that matter.

Most fans and announcers alike are quick to condemn the officials, referees and umpires and their rules never less fellow players hopping on the bandwagon to criticize. “That’s not fair”, “throw the ump out” or “here, use my glasses as yours clearly aren’t working” rain down from the peanut gallery of public opinion.

The USGA and the R&A are currently in the middle of trying to simplify the Rules of Golf. However, let us remember that golf is a complicated game and thus the complicated Rules. Think of the number of different combinations and permutations of situations that can arise on a golf course. Not everyone hits it in the middle of the fairway, on the green and two putts; at least not the guys in my Saturday game.

I do not expect anyone to memorize the Rule book but maybe I can get you started down the right path. If you can learn how to use the Rules of Golf, it will help you enjoy the game and you can then spread the word.

Before you open the book, let me give you a tip. The definitions are the key. They are the building blocks you need to build your foundation. You can’t climb a mountain unless you have the proper supplies and the definitions are the supplies. You still need to do the walking but if you run out of supplies half way up the mountain, you are in trouble.

Here is what you need to know. The first section is about the Etiquette of the game. The second section contains the Definitions. (Did you notice Etiquette comes first!)

After that are the Rules of the Game. They are divided as follows:

  • The Game (Rule 1, 2 & 3) – some basics and the different forms of play
  • Clubs and the Ball (Rule 4 & 5) – the equipment Rules
  • Player’s Responsibilities (Rule 6, 7, 8, & 9) – things you are supposed to know about like keeping score, your handicap, practicing and giving advice
  • Order of Play (Rule 10) – whose turn is it to play
  • Teeing Ground (Rule 11) – from where do we start each hole
  • Playing the Ball – (Rule 12, 13, 14 & 15) – searching and playing the ball
  • The Putting Green (Rule 16 & 17) – putting green and the flagstick
  • Ball Moved, Deflected or Stopped (Rule 18 & 19) – what to do when it happens
  • Relief Situations and Procedure (Rule 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27 & 28) – lifting, dropping, placing and cleaning the ball. Loose impediments, obstructions, ground under repair, water hazards, provisional balls and unplayable lies
  • Other Forms of Play (Rule 29, 30, 31, & 32) – Alternate shot, partners play and Stableford scoring
  • Administration (Rule 33 & 34) – the Committee and resolving disputes

If you have read this far, I’ve gotten you through the table of contents.  Now open the book and read the Etiquette section and close the book.

Tomorrow, open the book and read the definitions (it should take you about twenty minutes). The next day read the definitions again; only more slowly and try to understand them. Once you think you do, proceed to Rule 1 when you get the time. Good luck!

Remember, use the definitions, index or the table of contents to find the correct Rule that applies to the situation and follow the Rules of Golf to help to enjoy the game of golf.

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