The game of golf is too easy, so the UGSA had to make hundreds of rules and regulations to keep golfers in check. It’s also a gentlemen’s game that develops many character traits such as integrity, confidence, and judgment. If a player breaks a rule it is his responsibility to call a penalty shot on himself. Depending upon the rule that was broken, a golfers can be penalized up to 2 strokes and lose the distance from the last shot taken. In the world of competitive golf the significance of just 1 shot can mean making the cut and moving on to the weekend or thousands of dollars on tour. Any penalty stroke incurred during a round of golf can dramatically affect the results of your golf game. As a golfer it is your responsibility to play by and understand the rule book. It amazes me how many golfers neglect to play by the rules. If you are looking for one of the fastest ways to improve your golf scores and lower your handicap, reading the rules isn’t such a bad idea. This is why.
Learn The Rules to Lower Your Scores
I’m sure everyone remembers the PGA Championship when Dustin Johnson grounded his club on the 72nd hole in the bunker. This took him out of a playoff with Martin Kaymer and Bubba Watson because of a 2 shot penalty. According to the local rules that week all the sand areas were to be played a regular bunkers. The controversy behind this situation was that fans were so close and even were able to walk in the bunkers making them hard to identify as a player.
I can understand for the golfer that only plays a couple times a year to not understand or play by the rules. But there are no exemptions for a golfer that is regularly on the golf course trying to improve his game to not play by the rules. Often times the scores they are posting to their handicap are adjusted because players fail to take penalty shots from proper drops.
Today golfers and golf courses are trying to find ways to speed up play. At any given time there can be players of all different abilities on the golf course that can contribute to pace of play issues. The matter only gets worse if people start playing by the rules. I believe if golfers started to play by the rules pace of play would only become more of an issue. For this reason, I think golfers neglect to play by the rules in fear of slowing up the group behind them. This is just another reason why so many golfers find a disconnect between a normal round of golf and a tournament when rules are strictly enforced by your playing competitors.
I want to share a quick story on how I could have saved one shot in a tournament.
I know it’s very common for a golfers to take practice swings, as it is a common practice in many golfers pre-shot-routine. The purpose of a practice swing is to get you ready for the next shot, not contribute to one. There have been many occasions when plays have knocked the ball off the tee on the tee box however this doesn’t add to your golf score, only embarrassment. However, while in the fairway different rules apply.
As I was taking several practice swings behind the ball, my club slightly grazed the ground sending a small divot directly at my ball. There was no stopping the inevitable. This divot had managed to come into contact with my ball moving it a fraction of an inch forward. This of course is a penalty. I had to notify my playing competitors that I caused the ball to move, gave myself a one stroke penalty, and had to replace the ball to the location I thought it was before causing the ball to move then play my next shot.
Players have also incurred other silly penalties such as grounding your club that causing the ball to move. Picking up a stick around your ball that causes the ball to move. Or in my case hitting my ball with divots.
All of these penalty stroke can be avoided if you have a true understanding of the rules. Your actions will determine how much you know about the rules. The confidence that will come from learning the rule book can not be matched by any other abilities. If you want to become a better golfer and you have not taken the time to read the rules, that is next on the list.
It’s time to put aside all the swing tips and golf magazines to make some time for the rules. Like I said before when I was kidding around. This game is way to easy for humans so rules were made to make it more difficult.
In my particular case, I could have saved just one shot. Golf at times is unpredictable, we need to make lots of decisions in order to find the bottom of a cup. These different decisions from with consequences just like anything else. At the end of the day, or after 18 holes, the combination of these decisions add up to our golf score.
Please don’t make the same mistake I did. If you have a burning desire to take practice swing behind the ball, make sure your club come no were near the ground.