August 01, 2018

Rules of Golf - Where the Line is Drawn

The Rules Makers had to draw the line somewhere on many situations. Let's discuss why.

Many people are very critical of the Rules of Golf and often comment “Why don’t they just loosen up a bit”. From the point of view of the casual observer, that may seem to be a valid point. However, from a tournament administration perspective, that could be a nightmare! 

Remember when Craig Stadler laid down a towel to keep his slacks dry while playing a shot from underneath a tree in San Diego? He was penalized for building a stance under Rule 13-3. Many people complained that he gained no advantage and should not have been penalized. How about if it were two towels, five towels or fifty towels? Where do you draw the line? (They actually had him come back years later and exact revenge on that tree, see photo) 

Many times in the Rules of Golf you have to draw the line (pardon the pun) somewhere. 

For instance, the penalty is the same if your ball comes to rest 50 yards out of bounds or one inch out of bounds; stroke and distance. If you tried to grade the severity of how far out of bounds your ball came to rest to apply the penalty on a sliding scale you’d go mad! 

If your ball has one dimple within the teeing ground when you play from the teeing ground, all is well. If it’s all of the way outside the teeing ground, you may be looking at a disqualification penalty down the road (in stroke play). 

The difference in being late to the tee by four minutes and fifty-nine seconds versus five minutes and one second can be the difference between being in the tournament and going home. 

If your ball overhangs the hole after a short putt, you reach the hole without unreasonable delay; you then have an additional ten seconds for the ball to fall in without penalty. If it’s eleven seconds before it falls in, you add one penalty stroke. 

If your ball is touching the putting green, you may mark its position, lift and clean off that chunk of mud. If it’s just off the green, play hard. 

Many times it’s a fine line between being penalized or not, having the authority or not, or in playing the ball or not. It just has to be that way. You have to draw the line somewhere! 

Remember, knowing and following the Rules of Golf can assist you in avoiding unnecessary penalties and help you to enjoy this great game of golf even more.

(reposted and written by Jack Pultorak)

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