Have you ever stood back and really examined the rules of golf? The efforts the governing bodies go through to level the playing field is amazing whether we agree with their final decisions or not. Regardless of how you feel, it is important to know, understand, and more importantly use the rules of golf. These clearly defined rules (recently updated in 2019 if you did not know) do not just add strokes to your game, but can save you strokes if applied properly. It is really up to you!
A great example of not applying the rules to benefit my game happened just a few short days ago. My improper use of the rules lead to my first triple of the 2020 golf season and my first “well, that was really dumb” moment as well. Let me set up this teaching moment (I call it a teaching moment because “how to make a stupid decision” was taken 🙂 ).
I was playing the blues and pulled my 4 hybrid out of my bag. I hit my 4 hybrid approximately 190 yards in the air. On this shot, it will allow me to land the ball around the 150 yard marker and release about 15 yards to the crest of a steep hill. It is a fairly routine shot and staying to the right side of the fairway is the safe tee shot. Unfortunately, I pushed my ball out the right slightly and it came to rest in the red staked hazard, but I had a shot.
As I mulled over my options, I had two ways I could play this shot. Play the ball where it lied (I could easily get a club on the ball) or take a drop from point of entry applying two clubs onto the fairway from that position. Well, this is where my decision making feel off the rails of logical thought.
I decided to play the ball and advance it up the fairway to the crest of the hill about 50 yards from my position. Normally, this would be an easy shot, but I decided to hit my gap wedge because I did not want take the chance of damaging my new clubs on a rock under the surface. As I set up for the shot, I had some negative swing thoughts and felt I was making a poor choice. Pushing these thoughts from my mind, I proceeded with my shot. Yeah, bad idea as my wedge dug in too deep and my ball only advance 5 yards.
Now, I was in a worse position and had to chip the ball out to where I would have dropped it anyway. So, I was no further ahead by trying to play the ball. If I had only decided to take a drop at the beginning.
The reason I am second guessing my decision was not because of the result, but because if I took the drop, would have had a clear shot at the green without any challenges. It would have been 175 yard approach shot and I would not have had to struggle to gain a few extra yards which I really did not need anyway. In this case, I should have taken the drop and tried for my par, that would have been the proper application of the rules. You see, I knew the rules, understood my options, but neglected to use them for a little advantage. This is atypical for me, but a good learning moment!
On a side note, I ran this poll about using a mulligan:
I realize that those golfers that voted against using a mulligan if it was real voted with their hearts. I figure, if it was part of the rules, why would I not use it. But, alas it is not part of the rules, so this is a conversation with no real solution. I thought it would be a fun addition to using golf rules.
There is no shame of using the rules of golf to your advantage. As a matter of fact, it is the smart thing to do. I have played golf at the national level in the military and I can tell you that every player knows and uses the rules to their advantage. And not one player holds that against them.
The next time you are playing and you have an opportunity to use the rules of golf, I recommend that you do. It is perfectly legal and all part of the game. Why would you give your opponent a stroke or two advantage?
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!