Golfs Rules Get a Bit More Sensible

By George WhiteSeptember 29, 2005, 4:00 pm
I do believe that golf rules are finally getting on the same page as the golfers. Im referring to the vast majority of hit-and-gigglers, who are light years removed from the professionals who populate the PGA Tour. We watch those guys play their driver-wedge game on the weekends, but it isnt even remotely similar to the game we dabble at in our pastures across the globe.
 
Golfs two ruling bodies - the United States Golf Association and the Royal & Ancient - sent out news releases a couple days ago detailing a few changes in the manner in which the game is legally supposed to be played. In so doing, the ruling bodies got a step closer to golf as it is played among the masses.
 
One of the more surprising changes is the one concerning use of distance-measuring devices, either the GPS-based systems now widely found on golf carts or the laser rangefinders.
 
Didnt know your cart was illegally helping you when the graphic revealed you were 132 yards from the pin? Yep, it is. But the governing bodies will now accept local rules permitting such devices. Of course, if a local rule is not made, the carts and rangefinders still are illegal. Boo, hiss!
 
Now, I would much rather see a guy fumble around with his measuring devise than to have some schmoe actually step off the distance to the 150-yard or 100-yard marker. And incidentally, arent these markers just as much a distance device as the range-finding gizmos?
 
Isnt the scorecard itself, which tells you the distance on a par-3 is 178 yards, a distance-measuring aid? To be truly consistent, you should either allow these devices ' 200-, 150- and 100-yard markers, plus distance on scorecards - or not have any measurements at all. Yeah, we would be taken back to the days of old when a scoreboard was just a piece of paper with 18 spaces for the scores. But ' if thats the way you want to play your golf, so be it.
 
The revised rules also will do away with the provision which caused the disqualification of Jesper Parnevik and Mark Roe at the 2003 British Open. Roe and Parnevik forgot to exchange scorecards and ended up keeping the scores on the wrong cards ' yeah, their own. Yes, they kept the numbers exactly as they should have been. But no, they didnt keep them on the correct cards. Ergo, they signed incorrect cards.
 
Consequently, both were given the heave-ho. Roe in particularly was hit hard ' he had just shot a 67 in the third round, good for third place going into the finale. But he was sent packing ' no excuses allowed.
 
Now, such an error may be forgiven by the committee. Its official now ' good ol rule 6-6d/4, allowing authorities to strike the wrong name from an otherwise correctly completed score card without a time limit.
 
Bravo, bravo. They didnt go far enough, of course. The whole thing about scorecards and disqualifications is patently silly. A DQ because a player inadvertently forgot to sign a scorecard is punishment far beyond the crime.
 
Maybe such action was necessary in the 1920s, but it certainly isnt today. With a scorer walking there beside you each step of the way, plus an opponent there to keep your score also, plus the electronic scoreboards ' plus in many instances television ' it is impossible to cheat by recording an illegal score.
 
Two more rules changes make the game imminently more sensible. One has to do with where a player may stand when making a putting stoke. Sometimes, in attempting not to step in an opponents line, a player inadvertently positions himself on an extension of the line of putt behind the ball. The rule was originally put in to prevent the croquet style of putting. However, a little sanity was placed back into the rulebook.
 
Also, a liberalized interpretation of what is considered to be the normal course of play will allow the repair or replacement of a damaged club in more circumstances, provided that the club was not abused. Again, makes perfectly good sense to me.
 
Now, for a couple of rules which are screaming to be changed ' but which never will be in my lifetime:
 
Will they ever change the rule which says players may not tamp down spike marks in their line to the cup? I know, I know, one player in 10,000 may spend an inordinate amount of time funnelling out a line completely to the hole. But does the USGA really think a ball could be favorably affected by doing this?
 
Bernhard Langer will forever remember the rule. A spike mark affected perhaps the most infamous putt in golf ' Langers crucial miss of a 6-footer at Kiawah in 1991. A spike mark was in his line, but he wasnt allowed to touch it. Too bad, Bernhard, and goodbye, Ryder Cup trophy.
 
And while were at it, how about changing that rule about out-of-bounds balls? A ball which goes out of bounds by one inch carries a much greater penalty than a whiff you go back to the spot where you hit the shot, add a penalty stroke, and hit again. However, if you swing and miss completely, you simply swipe at it again.
 
This must be the most widely ignored rule in golf: If you discover your ball has drifted out of bounds, do you go to the trouble of stopping the play of you and the group behind you, walk back to the area where you swung, and do it all over again? No, not if you are like 999 of a 1,000 players, who shrug, lay a ball down inside the out-of-bounds line, take a penalty stroke and play on.
 
In spite of these pet peeves, let us keep in mind the big picture ' these roles changes represent a quantum leap in the rules. The USGA and the R&A are indeed moving in the right direction.
 
Email your thoughts to George White
Getty Images

What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

Getty Images

Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

Getty Images

Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

Getty Images

Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.