The Niggle: Which golf rules annoy you the most?

Golf Equipment

Which rules annoy you? The ones which are constantly broken but not punished? Or the ridiculous one which should be scrapped?

Golf is famous (or infamous?) for its rules. It’s a vitally important aspect of the game, particularly in tournament play, but which ones don’t you like or understand? 

Which ones are ridiculous? And which ones do you constantly see go unpunished?

James Savage and Karl Hansell give their views.

JS – I have to hold my hands up and say I’m not a stickler for the rules. As a relative new-comer to playing the game seriously, I’m often told by others that I’m breaching the rules by the way I hold my club or place my ball on the tee.

KH – It’s a tricky one this. I’m torn between thinking golf is all about fine margins and precision, and thus these intricate rules are necessary to prevent us all descending into some form of neolithic golf distopia. In my golfing youth I purchased a two-sided chipper from a discount sports store (you know the one) and was ostracised by my playing partners. At the time I was dumb-founded. I mean, who cares? 

JS – Playing to the absolute letter of the law can sometimes be a factor behind slow-play. Spending five minutes looking for a ball is too long. But people not hitting provisionals is probably what annoys me as much as anything. Some don’t realise you can’t get a penalty drop if you can’t find your ball in the bushes.

KH– Yes but if I’m out on a Sunday morning and if I don’t find my tee shot then I’ll drop a ball near where I think it was. I know what you’re saying about playing a provisional, but hitting one after every drive can substantially increase the length of time it takes to play a round. 
Come on, we’ve all temporarily turned stickler for the sake of a free drop haven’t we?"
JS – Having to play out of a divot from the middle of the fairway seems a bit harsh to me but seeing as you can’t get a drop if your ball lands in dog poo, I suppose it’s not the worst thing that can happen. Apparently you can get a drop if there’s a dead body on top of your ball – but they must be properly dead, not just badly injured. 

KH – Just wondering, if someone falls on your ball but isn’t quite dead, is it considered bad taste to finish them off, so you can then remove them from the scene, free from penalty (so long as your ball doesn’t move or you get reported to the police)?

JS – There’s probably another rule which forbids that. It annoys me when tour players unknowingly breach rules and are penalised retrospectively. Dustin Johnson at the 2010 USPGA springs to mind. A rules official could have told him it was technically a sand hazard and not to ground his club. It cost him the tournament – a maiden major title – and the rest, as they say, is history…

KH – Come on, we’ve all temporarily turned stickler for the sake of a free drop haven’t we? But when the debate descends to the level of whether a ball oscillated or rotated, then things really have gone too far haven’t they?

What are your gripes about the rules?

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