I enjoy Rules discussions. One learns a few things and also experiences another’s perspective. I started playing competitive golf late in life (35 or so) but I made it a point to learn the Rules well before I ever entered a tournament. Frankly, I see no point in playing any game without a clear understanding of the Rules. Collecting double the rent on an unimproved Monopoly or “castling” in chess are details and one can play either game without knowing the rule. One is likely, however, to see more success if one is aware of all the “details”. Still, for all our efforts we all stub our toes on occasion. A discussion about Rules recently got me thinking about my top Rules snafus.
- I cleared a long cross hazard off the tee and got to my ball. It was just where I thought it would be, having barely cleared the hazard. Yep, “Titleist” was clearly visible. I laid up short of the next hazard because of a poor lie. Then I discovered that the “Titleist” I had hit was not my “Titleist”. That was the last time I have done that, so far.
- I and my other three competitors were finishing up a decidedly indifferent one day tournament. The organization that ran this particular event had a condition of competition that every foursome was to finish the round within 4 ½ hours or, if over that number, finish within 12 minutes of the prior group. As usual, every group suddenly stepped on the gas with about 3 holes left. For whatever reason, we just could not be bothered with sprinting between shots on the last holes. As we turned in our cards, the official said, “everyone in the group has been assessed a one stroke penalty.” He got ready for a tirade but we all shrugged and said, “okay.” He was momentarily stunned and then smiled. “I have never had 4 people accept a penalty so easily.” That was, however, the last time I was penalized for slow play.
- In the final round of our three day City Championship, I was surveying my severely downhill putt for par. As I addressed the ball, it rolled a ¼ turn. I had not touched it but back in the day, after taking one’s stance and grounding the club, any movement was on you. I announced the penalty and, fortunately, was aware enough to move the ball back to its original position prior to playing the next shot. I stopped grounding my club on the green for several decades.
- We were playing a tournament at my home course. I typically played the “White” tees but for this event, it was “Blue.” The driver of the cart I was sharing drove up and parked next to the “White” tees. I had honors. You can guess the rest. My pre-shot routine now includes checking the tee color.
Of course, I have made both the ride and walk of shame back to the tee after losing my tee shot and neglecting to hit a provisional. Some might say I hit too many provisionals but honestly, I don’t plan to ever make that walk back again in a tournament.
With the proposed changes to the Rules, I am getting ready to go back to “school.” There will undoubtedly be fresh opportunities for me to “step in it” a far as Rules breaches. Still, it won’t be because I did not continue to study and attempt to understand the Rules.