Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Why Learn the Rules of Golf?

I am indebted to one of my regular subscribers, Bob Leftwich (Rules official at CSGA, MGA and Westchester GA), and to Peter Pulaski, PGA Professional and Director of Golf at The Course at Yale, for sharing with me the content for this week’s blog. The prestigious Golf Course at Yale, at New Haven, Connecticut, has been voted #1 College Golf Course in America and is ranked #35 of the Top 100 Classical Golf Courses in America (2013). Bob and Peter recently organised a series of four lectures on the Rules of Golf for the members. At the end of the course Bob asked the attendees to paraphrase their reasons for taking time out of their busy schedules to attend these Rules sessions. I found their collected comments interesting and hope that you will too;
  • To avoid conflict. (Many people have seen conflict on the course; it is unpleasant.)
  • To save time. (If you know the Rule, move on!) 
  • (To avoid) signing for an incorrect score.
  • The afterthought (sometimes for days it may linger): “Did I/we handle the situation correctly?” 
  • Integrity: "I must protect the field in stroke play." 
  • Being invited to other clubs. They may be shocked/upset if you violate a Rule. You may not be invited back.
  • Protecting yourself in match play. (Pull out the Rules book and show your opponent the correct answer.)
  • Being a member of an organization like the CWGA and playing in CSGA events requires good knowledge of the Rules; there have been cases of officials making mistakes in major events!) 
  • Being fair to others. (The Rules book decides what is fair. Fairness is not sympathy. This is a game with Rules!)
  • Knowing the Rules and using them can make the game more fun!
Hallelujah to that last point!

Again I want to express my thanks to Bob and Peter for permitting me to reproduce these illuminating comments.

Why Learn the Rules of Golf? – DA Points Disqualified
I had already completed the above blog when I became aware of yet another disqualification of a PGA Tour player. On Friday,
American, DA Points, was disqualified for a basic breach of the Rules. While passing the time, due to a 15 minutes wait to tee off on the iconic, par-5 finishing hole at Pebble Beach, Points pulled from his bag a spongy green ball that he had been given by his swing coach a few weeks previously. He placed the ball under his right arm to practice a few swings. Points told Golf Channel he had no idea he'd broken a rule. Mark Russell, Vice President of Rules and Competitions for the PGA Tour, phoned Points more than 3 hours after his round was completed, to inform the 2011 champion that he had been disqualified from the tournament for using the sponge Ball. Points reported that the conversation started along these lines;
“I said, ‘Is that an issue?’ He said, ‘Yeah, it’s an issue’”. Points added, “I accept what I did was wrong, but it wasn’t intentional.”
He later explained;,
"We were standing on the tee; it's cold, it's raining. I pull out the ball and make some dry practice swings, just trying to loosen up. I come to find out it's an unusual training device, something you wouldn't have in your bag. It's my fault for not knowing the Rule and I own up to that. But I don't want people thinking I was using some sort of contraption or device. It's just a green spongy ball. That's it. It's not something they sell on-line or anything."
What always surprises me is that professional golfers (and their caddies) do not seem to learn from previous mistakes made by their fellow professionals; in this case Jeff Overton’s disqualification (see this link) and Juli Inkster’s disqualification (see the stop press at this link) for breaching the same Rule 14-3, part of which states;
...the player must not use any artificial device or unusual equipment ...a. That might assist him in making a stroke or in his play,"
Good golfing,

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