Do We Really Need the Rules of Golf?

Recently, I ran a couple of polls to see if players actually use the new rules of golf or at least ask for rulings. I figure with the changes made to modernize golf, it would be worth asking the question of regular players if they need assistance implementing the changes. I must say, I am not surprised at the results, but it is something to think about.

I found it quite interesting that many of the professionals during the PGA Championship always asked an official if they were in a difficult situation. I do not think it was because they did not know the new rules, but more because they did not want to make the slightest mistake that could cost them extra strokes they could not afford.

The questions I asked on twitter were as follows:

Regardless, if the round was competitive or not, very few players ask for a rule interpretation. Of course, I do not know the answer as to why, but the best case scenario is that everyone read the new rules and completely understands all their nuances. The more reasonable explanation is that most players have some understanding of the rules, but do not care enough to make sure.

As far as the non-competitive round, I would surmise that most players are there to have fun and the rules just get in the way. The have enough of an understanding to play the game and keep a reasonable score. If they want to take their game to the next level, then I expect they will learn to grasp a greater understanding of how the rules can work to improve their game.

I was a bit more surprised at the competitive side. The fact that 2/3 of the players do not ask for a rule interpretation was a bit surprising. I have played many competitive rounds over the years and I can say that I ask for an interpretation in at least 80% of my rounds.. Sometimes it is for proper relief, but at least I ask. It seems logical to do so, but it seems I am in the minority for sure.

With so many players not really concerned about the rules of golf, the question arises: do we even need them? Of course this is a rhetorical question because we do, but if the governing bodies are trying to grow the game, focusing on the rules might not be the place to start.

What do you think? Do you ask for an interpretation of the rules often?

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!

2 thoughts on “Do We Really Need the Rules of Golf?

  1. I can’t remember the last time I questioned anyone over the rules. But I don’t play competitively so there really is no reason to. Besides, I generally assume I know them better than those I play with since I at least follow them when playing for a handicap score. And on those days, I just err on the side of caution and assume the worst or maybe look it up on my phone if I am not sure. But I also use the course for practice a lot and don’t plan on recording my score on those days so the rules of golf are moot then. For most golfers, the rounds we play are for fun, and I think golf etiquette is the more important aspect to adhere to rather than the rules. Fix your divots on the fairways and greens. Let faster players by. Don’t hit into the group ahead. These are the things that make golf better for everyone. I’ve suggested to others to break the rules far more often than I’ve called out a violation of them. Take a mulligan. Tee up every shot. Lol. Whatever helps someone hit the ball better and enjoy their round more and speed play is fine by me. And whatever you do, move the ball when it’s sitting among the roots of trees. Breaking a club or your wrist is no way to have fun. Competitive golf and setting a handicap are the only two reasons to follow the rules religiously in my mind. The rest of the time, it should be about enjoying a little exercise and some fresh air and sunshine.


    • Kevin

      I too have offered players to bend the rules, especially early in the season. Golf is supposed to be fun and if the rules get in the way of that, then something needs to change. Golf is about a little bit of exercise out in the fresh air enjoying the company of the round.

      Cheers Ji


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