Understanding of the rules and the rule book can be a real advantage over the field

Rules are rules

A topic which seems very current at the moment in the golfing world is the rules. As a sport, golf prides itself on being largely governed by the players, especially so at club level. Up keeping of the rules and behaving in the correct manner are absolute cornerstones of the game and are held in the highest of importance.

Now when it comes to golf, I must admit the rules situation can sometimes be a little confusing. And with a substantial rules book, it’s easy to be a little confused and especially daunting for a new player, which I think can often serve as a deterrent to playing a competitive round.

Take Abu Dhabi last month for instance, three major rules decisions in the same tournament. It has been surprising to me over the past 18 months that many of the rules breaches and penalties have come from poor knowledge on part of the player involved. I seriously don’t question the integrity of any of the players, it just seems their knowledge of the rules is not what you may expect.

Now, as I mentioned, the rules of golf are a little confusing and the language used often paints a very vague picture. But what I learned long ago was that by understanding how the rule book is written, you can enjoy good understanding without the need to revise extensively. The rule book is written in the order in which you would play a round. Therefore the issues such as equipment, tee times etc. are dealt with in the beginning of the book as your round would be. Then follow questions about the tee shot, then approach, to short game and putting, before anything involved after you finish the round. Now it’s a simple bit of advice, but it really helped me to turn a difficult and confusing book into something that made some logical sense to me. Make good use of the appendix as well when searching for specific rules.

Understanding of the rules and the rule book can be a real advantage over the field and is part of your commitment to playing the sport. We only need to look back to Abu Dhabi to confirm the importance of knowing the rules, with Rory McIlroy’s mistake costing him a two shot penalty, and with this he lost the tournament. So understanding the rules can represent a real advantage to notice when the correct procedure is required.

I challenge you to the five following rules situations. Even if you’re a semi-regular golfer these should be easy, but if you don’t get all of them correct, I recommend you maybe take a glance through the rule book one more time…

1. What is the minimum/maximum number of clubs I can carry?

2. On the teeing ground, how far back am I allowed to tee my ball?

3. Am I allowed to have the flag tended even if my ball lies off the green?

4. In a bunker, am I allowed to remove a stone interfering with my ball?

5. On the green, am I allowed to repair a spike mark?

Give us your answers on our Facebook page and we’ll pick a winner at random to win an online lesson with me. We’ll annonce the winner on Thursday 27 February on Facebook.


Words by Blair Cross, Academy Instructor

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