Which golf rule would you change?February 8, 2017 The Scoop
As the R&A and USGA consider some alterations to golf's rules, the NCG team discuss what should be on their shortlist…
Steve Carroll: Does any sport – with the exception perhaps of rugby union – have such a confusing set of rules as golf?
I’ve passed the R&A Level 1 Rules exam, and am deep into the rulebook studying for Level 2, and I still don’t really have a clue what I’m talking about.
So it was very encouraging to see the R&A and USGA getting their heads together to simplify the Rules of Golf and try and speed up the game.
Repairing spike marks on the green and allowing players to take a drop from any height are just two of those under consideration and expected to be implemented by 2019.
A preview of the changes will be released in March. So what should be on their agenda?
I want a change to the out of bounds rule. The sight of the white stakes can send a chill through my very being.
You can smash your ball 300 yards and, if you are a fraction over, it’s a stroke and distance penalty. So you have to hit again – now taking your third shot – and hope you find the fairway this time.
Yet if you stick your ball in a water hazard, it’s a drop. What’s that all about? Both shots are wildly inaccurate.
Let’s treat out of bounds as a lateral hazard – establish point of entry, take a drop and a penalty stroke and get on with it.
What would you like to see? Which rule of golf gets your goat and should be changed? Shout up now, and loudly…
Alex Perry: How long have you got? There’s just no common sense a lot of the time.
First of all, I’m completely with you on treating OB as a lateral hazard. Let me drop my ball at the point of entry with a one-shot penalty and get on with my day.
Speaking of which, the whole act of dropping the ball is stupid. Why can’t I just place it on the ground and move on? I’ve got better things to do than dropping a ball until it lands in an acceptable spot.
Also, where’s my free relief from a divot? I’m not getting the same shot into the green as the player who created the divot. Ridiculous.
And these affect the pros more than me, but the bunker vs wasteland debacle and the fact you can be disqualified for signing for the wrong score.
These have cost several players the chance of winning Major championships, for crying out loud.
Off the course, the snobbery at some clubs is embarrassingly archaic. No jeans? No trainers? Behave. And don’t get me started on single-sex clubs…
Mark Townsend: The five-minute ruling for looking for a ball, not because I like slow play but because it’s the most pointless regulation in any sport.
Nobody pays any attention to how long you are allowed and most of us – and I include myself right in the middle of this – can then be found waving our arms around frantically when we finally locate the ball three days later…
SC: They are talking about reducing that to three minutes. How does that sit with you?
MT: Even more pointless, we only finally give up the hunt when three groups are waiting on the tee behind. You could improve the speed of play and enjoyment of golf by running nationwide summer camps which focus solely on looking for balls as most people I play with are generally 60 yards out when trying to ‘help’.
Jamie Millar: Does anyone actually implement that rule?
Maybe you need a referee with a stopwatch like on Gladiators – ‘On my first whistle…’
James Savage: I think all hazards, well, let’s call them ‘rubbish places to hit your ball’, apart from bunkers, should be treated like water hazards. It would cut out the need to hit provisionals.
If you hit it in the trees, gorse, or long grass – have a quick look then drop one at the penalty of one stroke on the line of entry no nearer the hole. Or just a drop from roughly where you thought your ball should be.
It should speed things up bit and save the humiliation of hitting provisionals.
Tom Lenton: This would lower my scores significantly. Would you say drop for out of bounds?
JS: Do you normally hit a bad provisional as well?
TL: I hit 3 off the tee even worse. Drop for OB would mean tour players probably play more aggressive off tees.
MT: Hitting a provisional is the mark of a man. And why I hit five of them once.
Would you like bigger holes too? Golf is just fine the way it is, getting round 16 minutes quicker than last year’s round isn’t going to change anyone’s life.
Tom Irwin: OOB is too penal, should be stroke or distance not both to be more consistent with water hazards; plugged lies anywhere (not in a hazard) should be pick and place; any errors involving scoring should be no penalty.
TL: Relief in a bunker full of water should be a free drop.
Dan Murphy: It is. Just in the bunker. I always think it’s unfair that you can’t use a penalty drop to get out of a bunker.
Bearing in mind that you would still have to find a way over (or round) the bunker after the drop, it seems to me you would still be getting penalised heavily.
But it would allow you a way to complete the hole if bunkers were your nemesis.
TI: Is it? I thought it was a free drop if you dropped back in the bunker but total relief from a hazard is a penalty even if it is full of water, unless bunker is declared out of play as a local rule?
JS: Oh, and not being allowed to putt with your bag on your back. How is that gaining any sort of advantage? Pointless rule.