With the most significant changes to the Rules of Golf in a generation about to come into force, there is more focus on the laws that govern the game than for some time.
The Official Guide to the Rules of Golf has been published to streamline the way club officials, committees, and anyone with an interest in the rules can access the information they need.
Previously, you’d carry a copy of the full rules, along with the large Decisions book, to have comprehensive knowledge. Now these two books are combined into one 522-page tome.
Of course, a lot of the day-to-day rules most players need to complete a round are found in the Player’s Edition. The full Rules themselves are also still being released as a separate publication.
But they can only take you so far.
It is in the interpretations – how the Rules are applied in practical situations on the course – that their true intentions become apparent.
This is where the Official Guide to the Rules of Golf comes into its own. We all know, for example, that we can ground the club “lightly” in front or behind the ball when we are preparing to take a stroke.
What actually constitutes “lightly”? Only the interpretations gives you the definition: “allowing the weight of the club to be supported by the grass, soil, sand or other material on or above the ground surface”.
If that all sounds a bit technical, and if you don’t need four examples of how to take relief from an underground abnormal course condition, then you can let it pass you by.
But someone in the club will need to know for the one time a year a ball enters an animal hole close to a boundary fence and a member’s on the phone asking what to do.
If you’re involved in golf club administration, whether running a club or on a committee, the Official Guide becomes even more important.
The last 150 pages cover everything from marking out a course for general play to establishing codes of conduct and setting local rules.
On the latter, which can prove a particularly tricky task, there are even a selection of ‘model local rules’ to follow and adapt for scorecards and club noticeboards.
If you are a rules chairman, involved in a rules committee or simply have an interest in knowing the laws of the game inside and out, you simply can’t do without this book.
More on the Rules of Golf
The Official Guide to the Rules of Golf, by The R&A and USGA, is published by Hamlyn and costs £22.