While an unsolicited explanation to the average golfer of all the rules that they are breaking might be a more sure-fire way to piss people off, following ALL the RULES ALL THE TIME is sure to create some awkward situations when you are playing with less rules conscious players (the majority of the golfing public IMO).
On Sunday, I was grouped with a threesome playing only the front nine and joined another threesome on the 16th tee. I stood +3 at the time and proceeded to birdie 16 and par 17. A birdie on the reachable par 5 18 would give me a 72, bettering my previous course best (the two 73s I shot at the Keystone River course last season). Unfortunately, I pull hook my drive and it hits the cart path and takes a big bounce into the trees. I then hit a provisional on the fairway close to the 150 marker.
Thinking that I could punch out and still make birdie if I find my first one, I look for and find it. Unfortunately, I have no shot with thick trees in front of me and low hanging branches interfering with even a simple chip out. There are no good drops within two club lengths and going straight back doesn't make it much easier as the open area about 20 yards back has nothing straight ahead and a less than clear chip out going sideways/backwards. While in hindsight I would have been better off not looking for my original ball, my best option under the rules is to go back to the tee hitting 3.
The rest of the group has already hit their second shots and going back to the tee will put me about 400 yards behind them, so I try to chip out sideways but catch the low hanging branches and whiff. I then announce that I am going to go back to the tee and hit another at which point one of the guys says that I already did that (with my provisional). I explain that the provisional was no longer an option once I found my original, go back to the tee and make a par 5 on that ball for a triple bogey to card a legit 76.
All in all, the guys didn't show their frustration too much but made a couple comments about me travelling two miles to play the hole and not following all the rules themselves.
I have said this before, but will say it again- I think the rules of golf could be greatly simplified without changing the basic nature/challenge of the game. The current rules are followed by so few golfers that following the rules makes you an oddball.