When not in competition, I have to say that I do not follow all the golf rules. Of course I take all my penalty strokes and keep the spirit of the rules at the forefront of my game, but I do not go through all the motions of every rule. And, I do not care if my playing partner follows the rules at all. It is completely up to them, it is their game.
When I say I do not follow all the rules, what I mean is that on a drop, I do not measure the exact location of where I can drop, close is good enough. When I come across an unfair landing area due to course conditions, I will move my ball. As a group, we will decide on areas of free lift due to maintenance, a situation we consider unfair, or some other player not looking after the course that causes an unfair playing situation.
I have, however, played with some who follow all the rules and expect me to do the same. During competition, I completely agree, however during casual rounds, I am less compliant. Some of the rule followers have a tendency to discuss all the rules and do not have any issue pointing out of I happen to breach any number of the rules. As it turns out, I do not enjoy the round and walk off at the end of 18 holes a little dissatisfied with the whole proceedings.
Now, I realize that as a single-digit handicapper, it is important I follow all the rules for the good of the game. Additionally, by taking relief for difficult situations from time to time might have an effect on the score and I hear what you are thinking. However, during casual rounds, it just does not matter. I do not want to go 10 rounds about the rules with someone who thinks they know how each rule is to be applied. I would rather go kayaking!
During a competition, that is completely different. Following all the rules is as much about my score as it is to protect the field. I follow all the rules and make sure my playing partners do the same. It is very important to make sure everyone is treated the same. A few years back, I ran into a rules issue in an article called “Gopher It!” Take a read let me know what you think.
If you do encounter a situation during a casual round where you disagree with your playing partners ruling, you have three options: ignore them, follow their ruling or play two balls (one with your ruling and one with theirs) and ask the pro once you are finished your round. You keep both scores and take the score that the pro rules on. In competition, you only have two options: agree on a ruling or play two balls as above.
It does no good to argue about the rules during any round as it will only throw your game off. I realize we have all played with people who ‘stretch’ the rules all the time, but, I personally do not care outside competition. Most of the time, I play for the fun of the game and enjoying the great outdoors. Arguing about the rules is never on my radar screen. How about you?
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!
Written by Jim Burton from The Grateful Golfer blog.