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How closely do you follow the rules?

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I previously never had a need to follow the rules because... well, I sucked. Now that I'm officially a "bogey golfer", I feel it necessary to follow them almost as closely as possible. When my friends and I weren't good, we would fluff the ball for a good lie, give putts as far as out as 3 feet, take unlimited mulligans from the tee, etc. Last year when I started tracking my handicap (I was a 36 to start), I stopped taking ANY gimme's, played the ball where it lies at all times (unless it's plugged in the fairway due to soaking wet conditions), and stopped taking mulligans AT ALL. Is everybody else just as strict? I would imagine so... just checking!

Oh also... I just found out last month that if your tee shot is lost, you have to hit 3 from the tee box... I thought you had to drop as close to where it went out of play as possible. That certainly would make a difference for my early handicap, though it wouldn't now because I've been playing this rule for the last 14 rounds.

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I made a thread about lift clean and place which was turned around on me. I think when you 1st start out you should take mulligans so you can get the feel of a good shot. Its like practise, I used to go out and hack it around with my friends the 1st few months I played and like you, when I started being able to play bogey golf and decided I wanted to attempt to get better at this game. I became a stiff for the rules.

If im by myself playing a round and the course isnt busy, I will hit my 1st shot, if its not down the middle I'll hit a 2nd (which is usually right down the middle) but im sure to play my 1st shot and record the score from the 1st shot. I noticed this is something they do on playing lessons from the pros. Like I said, it helps you get the feel for hitting a good shot, and what you did right/wrong. I do the same with putts if i miss a putt i'll write down that score, but i will take another stroke at it to try and hole it to get that positive feeling.

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Your only cheating yourself by not following the rules.
Small things like lifting the ball for a good lie can make the game that much harder when playing properly, ie comps.
If people are serious about golf, i think you should follow the rules as closely as possible from the get go.
Hitting 'second shots' for missed putts and crappy tee/approach shots is a great idea when its quiet on the course. I find it adds confidence for following and upcoming holes

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Your only cheating yourself by not following the rules.

Agree to all, except maybe the "second shots" thing. Certainly for putting, as that's within the rules.

I found out a long time ago I have a whole lot more pride when I hit a great shot from a terrible lie than when I move the ball and hit a super shot. So, however long ago that was (12 years maybe?), I stopped doing it. There are times even the most staunch rules advocate will play outside the rules - we had a really wet spring and occasionally you couldn't find your ball in the fairway because it would literally plug so deep into the ground, so we'd drop and play on - but the way I see it there's "cheating" and there's "playing outside the rules." Lost balls in the fairway because it's so wet is an example of the latter. The leaf rule is another some will use in informal competition. That "second shot" you speak of is outside of the rules as well, since it's tough to declare you're hitting a provisional when you can see your first drive 200 yards ahead and in the left rough.

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The only way to actually improve and really enjoy the game is to play by the rules as closely and fairly as you can. A friend who started me playing used to have a standard saying: If I asked about moving an obstacle, taking relief or playing from a hazard he would reply, "What would you tell me if that was my ball?"

The truth is that once you play it as it lies, putt all putts and keep an accurate score you have a bench mark by which to establish your game and improve upon it. If a player rolls the ball in the fairway, moves it from divots, takes three foot gimmes or grounds their club in the sand and hazards they will never improve because the game simply doesn't matter.

In a local junior golf program they give the kids a score card that has 6 strokes to use on a par 3, 7 on a par 4 and 8 on a par five. So they learn early on that if they hit an errant drive or find a bad lie the challenge is to get it in play so they can get down in the alloted stroke limit. When I began playing that way by giving myself a bogey allotment on each hole my game improved greatly.

By recognizing that an even bogey round was a respectable 90 and that all I had to do was hit a couple of greens or make a some good lag putts to flirt with 85 my handicap index went from 18.4 to 13.2 in one year. Bombing tee shots lost importance when compared to hitting fairways and my second shots became something I really thought about as a strategy for getting up and down.

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I follow it extremely close. I take all out of bounds strokes, hazards, etc. and never hit a mulligan anymore. I've been doing this for the past month because I play for my high school team so might as well get used to match play.

If I'm just out practicing, and I'm struggling with a certain shot, I may drop down like 2-3 balls, but I'll always play my first.

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I try to play as strict as I can to the rules. It makes me feel better know that I can play strict to the rules and still do well. I will make a putt again after I've holed out to see if I can reread the line properly.

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Oh also... I just found out last month that if your tee shot is lost, you have to hit 3 from the tee box... I thought you had to drop as close to where it went out of play as possible. That certainly would make a difference for my early handicap, though it wouldn't now because I've been playing this rule for the last 14 rounds.

I play it as close as possible from where it went out, to save time, especially on crowded days. If I'm really being a rules nazi, I say I'm hitting four from where the ball was last seen.

I've limited myself to one mulligan per round, always a tee shot. If I flub a shot in the fairway, I might drop more balls and try again, but I'll take my first.

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The truth is that once you play it as it lies, putt all putts and keep an accurate score you have a bench mark by which to establish your game and improve upon it. If a player rolls the ball in the fairway, moves it from divots, takes three foot gimmes or grounds their club in the sand and hazards they will never improve because the game simply doesn't matter.

This is my line of thinking. If you help your game by cheating because you don't think you're "good enough", when you get "good enough" and play by the rules your score won't accurately reflect that you have improved. Play by the rules all the time, and your scores will go down as you get better.

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My dad used to tell me, "You can learn allot about the character of a man by playing a round of golf with him"

Could not be spoken more true. It always amazed me how 6 shots to get to a par 4 green and a solid 3 put equalled a bogey!!

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When I go out on the course I am doing one of two things: Playing a competitive round or practicing.
If I am playing a competitive round that means I am playing in a tournament, against an opponent, or to post a round for handicap purposes. In that instance I follow that rules exactly to the word. No gimmees, no mulligans, and no lift clean and cheat (unless stipulated before the round by the tournament committee).
If I go out to practice then I normally play 2 or 3 balls and my goal is not to even keep score but to work on my scoring in general. I get to do this in the late evenings and early morning when the course is empty.

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The group that i play with regularly tries to stay as close to the rules as we can, with a few exceptions added because our level of play is pretty poor.

1 Mulligan on each the front and back 9.. you lose it if you don't use it. Mainly we do this for our long standing gentlemen's bet. We'd prefer to not let teebox misshits determine the outcome of who was playing best that day.

Also.. as I noticed, we just drop lies down the fairway approximately where the group believes the ball was lost. I never really thought much about this being "outside the rules of golf", but I guess I can see why. We do it mainly for pace of play reasons.. even when hitting a provisional you're still going to take extra time to go retrieve the ball if you do find your first one, plus we'd actually like to try and find the ball in the first place, and once you're down the fairway there's no good reason to go back to the tee and hit again if the ball is lost.

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If you help your game by cheating because you don't think you're "good enough", when you get "good enough" and play by the rules your score won't accurately reflect that you have improved. Play by the rules all the time, and your scores will go down as you get better.

I think the benchmark when one should start following all the rules while playing is when they can hit the ball in the air on almost every shot. If you're just skulling and chunking your way down the fairway and making 8 after 8, then it's irrelevant whether you shoot a 130 or a 140. If you're down around 105-115ish then I think all the rules should be followed. That's basically the path I took.

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I play by the rules unless I am playing what I designate a "practice round" right from the start. Even if I'm the only player on the course, I still play by the rules. Even in the winter when my friends are playing "preferred lies" I still play the ball down. That is just how I feel that the game is intended to be played, and since I have to know and follow the rules for tournament play, I just do it all the time so I don't have to keep shifting gears

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Interesting comments about following the rules.

For me, it's quite simple. If I keep score, then I follow as best as I know how - there are quite a few obscure rules in that rule-book...

If I'm not keeping score, either during a practice round or playing a social round with my retired parents, then I just go "with the flow" and try to move our group along and focus on other parts of my game.

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I play by the rules unless I am playing what I designate a "practice round" right from the start. Even if I'm the only player on the course, I still play by the rules. Even in the winter when my friends are playing "preferred lies" I still play the ball down. That is just how I feel that the game is intended to be played, and since I have to know and follow the rules for tournament play, I just do it all the time so I don't have to keep shifting gears

Funny you should mention that. Last year, I played in a tournament with a guy whose usual group always moves their balls in the fairway. So what does he do on the first hole? Hits his drive down the middle walks to his ball and bumps it into a better lie. Well I called him on it and he was furious. Then he did it again on the back nine and the other guy we were playing with called him on it. So the moral of the story is if you get in the habit of not following the rules every time you play, then it will jump up and get you when you have to follow them.

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Witout rules hanicaps mean nothing. The guys I mostly play with play what they call "Gentlemen Golf". That is 2 off the first, roll the ball in the fairway, 3ft gimmies, etc.
Then at the end of a round they end up with a 93 .
Personally I play the game as it was intended, take the penalty stroke, have to chip out from under the tree, putt the ball into the hole, and write down my score. Whatever it may be. Even though when I play a great hole and someone I'm playing with hits in the water, 4 putts then tells me bogey.
I know.

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Hits his drive down the middle walks to his ball and bumps it into a better lie. Well I called him on it and he was furious.

I have quit playing in my men's club matches for exactly that reason. I don't know if people simply don't know the rules or choose to ignore them, but calling a violation has become a problem more than once. So, I'm done. People really take offense at it and it seems character goes right out the window for the sake of claiming a bogey when the score for 18 is gonna be out of the money anyway.

One time an official of our association was playing a ball I noticed which he pulled badly off the tee. He hit a provisional, but claimed to find the first ball 'after' playing the second shot on the provisional. After a big discussion about the legality of that shot he missed the green and fumbeld around , eventually claiming a bogey and as I saw him pick his ball from the hole I noticed it was a different brand than the one he used on the tee that he claimed to have found. It was our club championship. That was my last round. I don't get it.

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