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rules of golf

Get off your high horse – I bet you break the rules of golf too

Everyone lost their minds watching Patrick Reed shovelling around a waste area. But the Angry Club Golfer believes that we’re nothing more than a bunch of hypocrites
 

I know I’m joining the Patrick Reed debate later than most but that’s because it’s been hard to see past all those people sitting on their high horse.

Did Reed know what he was doing? Was it unintentional? I don’t know, but what I’m very clear on is that some of the most heinous Rules of Golf breaches I’ve ever seen have come far away from the bright lights of the main tours.

If you want to see real cheating, you’ve got to look a bit closer to home. I’ve witnessed everything in my time – scorecard doctoring, the ball that suddenly appears by the trolley trick, not to mention the, ahem, ‘confusion’ that frequently surrounds which is the provisional ball.

Ignorance isn’t an excuse, either. The Players’ Edition is basically the Spot the Dog of the Rules of Golf. The R&A and USGA drew big pictures and everything. It couldn’t be much simpler.

But there are a couple of things I see virtually every time I play that blow my mind when the perpetrators turn into an evangelist at the mere mention of Reed’s name. If you recognise yourself in one of these, shame on you.

‘I’ll just drop it here…’

If I had a pound for every time I’ve watched someone walk towards the front of a pond they’ve topped one into, and just casually chuck one down along the way, I’d be sipping Dom Perignon from my Caribbean yacht rather than boring myself on a keyboard.

Back-on-the-line relief, which is what I’m talking about here, isn’t hard. Basically, take a line straight back from the hole through the point where the ball last crossed the edge of the penalty area, and then drop in a relief area.

So if you’ve shanked it further right than Boris Johnson’s new cabinet, don’t then go 50 yards to the left and straight in front of the flag and express surprise when I’m yelling at you.

‘That’s in the penalty area…’

But is it? Is it really? You’d think ‘known or virtually certain’ was pretty clear in the Rules of Golf when it comes to evaluating whether your ball has been lost in a penalty area.

Somewhere down the line, it became ‘well, it went in the direction of the water so it can’t be anywhere else’.

It could be in plenty of places. If you don’t know, or are not ‘virtually certain’ – the clue is in those two phrases – then get back and apply stroke and distance.

‘It hasn’t been three minutes…’

You’re right, it hasn’t. It’s actually been five minutes and 45 seconds. The ball was lost from the moment it left the clubface. You spinning out a couple of extra minutes in the vain hope the duck hook you hit has miraculously failed to find the hedge isn’t going to make a difference.

Enjoy the Angry Club Golfer’s work, or do you wish he’d shut his trap? Have your say in the comments or tweet him.

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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