He Said/She Said: Change these dumb rules!


The Rules of Golf. Hardly anyone who plays the game knows all of the rules, and rightfully so, as many in the book are simply outdated and a bit harsh on most of us hackers. With the U.S. Golf Association and R&A recently coming to their senses on some rules changes, here are a handful that also need to be addressed.


Stroke and distance: As a golfer who has a tendency to launch tee shots right, or snap hook them well left, I hate this rule. First off, not only am I disgusted with my never-ending ability to not find a fairway, but then I have to endure the one-stroke penalty for going O.B. Fair enough, I suck, and should pay the price. But to have to go back to the tee box and re-tee, well that’s just too much of a penalty for one swing. That’s like getting the courage up to ask out a woman at a bar and having her not only tell you to ‘get lost,’ but then finishes it with a slap across the face. But then again, trying to figure out golf or women never seems fair.

Signing a scorecard: Yes, this doesn’t affect 99.9 percent of us playing in our casual rounds, but it does affect those playing this sport at the highest levels. Could you imagine watching the Packers beat the Jets 42-28 to win the Super Bowl only to then find out that the Packers are getting DQ’d because Aaron Rogers wrote down 41-28 instead? Scorecard, really? Try thinking ‘scoreboard.’ Every sport has them – including – duh – golf. Let the players play. Let other people keep the scores.

Repairing a spike mark: Let me get this straight: you can take out a tool and repair a divot on the green but you are not allowed the use your putter to tap down a spike mark? This old rule needs to be ixnayed inway ahurryway (pardon my pig Latin). I’m not sure why more professionals do not make a bigger stink out of this. Putting on superfast, otherwise perfectly manicured greens, I would think something as simple as tapping down one of these imperfections should not be against the rules. And for those of you in opposition – using the ol’ ‘rub of the green’ argument – how about I come out to the course and club you over the head with a 2-iron and then just call it ‘rub of the green'? Just kidding – that was my inner Tommy 'Thunder' Bolt coming out. 


Divots: It’s unfortunate, really. When a player hits a phenomenal tee ball only to get to the fairway and find one’s ball has come to rest in a divot. The divot is not considered a hazard or ground under repair, and golfers are required to play it as it lies. Golfers shouldn’t be penalized simply because their ball comes to rest in a divot. That should be considered ground under repair – because, after all, is it not growing and repairing itself? – and players should get relief.

Hazards: So your ball finds its way into a water hazard surrounded by colored stakes of the red or yellow variety. Do you have any clue what your options are for each? Do you drop within two club lengths, no nearer the hole? Do you take the line it crossed and go to the complete opposite side of the lake, no nearer to the hole and drop? Do you go backward on the line your ball entered the hazard, no nearer the hole and drop there? In all those scenarios, the only constant and only thing I’m certain, is that under no circumstances must I ever drop nearer to the hole. Otherwise, it’s a crapshoot. Red stakes, yellow stakes … filets or prime rib? I’m not opposed to having so many options, but how about consolidate the different types of hazard into one, so that we have the same plethora of options each time we find trouble?

Asking for and giving advice: I’m not sure if I love this rule or think it’s bogus. The one thing I do know is, I’ll never forget it’s not allowed … and I’ll tell you why. My senior year at Old Dominion University in the final round of the Colonial Athletic Association conference tournament, while standing on the 17th tee box with one of my teammates, my coach walked over and asked Alexis – my teammate – what she had just hit on the par 3. Alexis answered our coach and walked toward 17 green. Then a girl on one of the other teams in my group asked her teammate what she had just hit and the teammate answered. My coach then assessed both of the girls two-shot penalties for exchanging advice. I heard what club my teammate had told my coach she hit because I was standing right there. But I didn’t ask Alexis, nor was she speaking to me. A perfect example that if you know how to use the rules of golf, they can work to your advantage. But it seems a bit odd to have a rule so loosely defined.