Rules of Golf

Question: What is the worst infringement you’ve witnessed on a personal level?

Dan: Beyond actual cheating, and giving the golfers in question the benefit of the doubt, I think it would be ignorance of how to proceed after hitting into a water hazard. Generally one with yellow stakes. Balls can be dropped hundreds of yards away from the point of entry.

Mark: Mine’s similar. I watched a junior, who very nearly made it in the game, at La Manga take a terrible drop with his interpretation of where his ball crossed the hazard. He wanted to leave himself a yardage to reach the green which he did. The downside for him was that, while he won his match by five shots, everyone spent the rest of the week talking about him behind his back.

Steve: I’ve seen lots of cheating through the years but, aside from that, one of the most rules-ignorant things I saw was a player scrape a chipper right through a bunker while trying to escape. He was utterly oblivious to the fact you couldn’t ground your club in a bunker.

Matthew: We’ve probably all witnessed people bend the rules in their favour regarding free drops from rabbit scrapings or a staked tree. I once had a player press the sides of the hole which was slightly damaged before they putted. It wasn’t enough to warrant repairs but do you say anything? No. You never want to make the next four hours more awkward than they might be.


Question: If you got your hands on the tiller what rule would you like to change?

Mark: My least favourite moan about the rules is the bleating about divots (see below). Just play it. Getting a two-shot penalty for inadvertently playing in front of the tee markers seems an odd one. At the worst you should just have to replay the shot, at best just have a word and tell him/her they were three inches out of line and to watch themselves. It should be up to the group to regulate this.  

Matthew: The idea of a divot rule was brought up by Rich Beem at the BMW Championship when Tiger Woods hit an outstanding drive to find his ball had come to a halt in an unrepaired divot. I do believe in the misfortunes of the game in regards to odd bounces and how luck can play a factor but, as Beem pointed out, if a divot is filled with sand it would technically become GUR and therefore you would be able to gain a relief. It wouldn’t be the worst change that could be made to the rules.

Steve: Lots of my old moans, about water hazards and so on, are actually being addressed when the new rules come into force in 2019. I’m actually quite contented about where they they stand at the moment. Although, I’d definitely ban green books in their entirety.

Dan: I’m not a big fan of being unable to take relief from a sprinkler head between you and the hole when your ball is off the green but said sprinkler head is not interfering with your stance. Sprinkler heads are not architectural features and so they shouldn’t influence the shot you play.