The makeover golf’s rules boffins have in mind should be just the start.
IN TWO years time the rules by which we play the game might look entirely different to how they do today, after the R&A and United States Golf Association recently outlined their proposed rule changes for 2019 onwards.
Most of the draft changes are common-sense moves designed to simplify convoluted processes, clarify the language or simply speed up play. But they didn’t go quite far enough.
Here are five rules we’d like to see added to the Rules of Golf:
1. Why are we permitted 14 clubs?
It’s such an arbitrary figure. We say, if you can fit 20 sticks in your bag – and can handle the weight – then go for it. The more the merrier.
2. Bunkers are hazards and should always remain so.
But why should you be denied a chance at finessing a magnificent escape courtesy of another golfer’s carelessness? If your ball finishes within a footprint in a bunker, pick it up and drop it elsewhere in the sand that’s no nearer the hole. Then splash it out without guilt. (And there would be no such thing as footprints in bunkers if golfers’ names were imprinted on the base of their shoes, thus revealing the culprits.)
3. Reward fast play.
Your foursome covered 18 holes in less than four hours? Congrats, you are permitted to wipe two strokes from your total score.
4. Bring back the ‘stymie’.
It used be one of the great artforms in matchplay – where to leave your ball around the cup to thwart your opponent. Outlawed in 1952, let’s give the stymie a 21st century revival.
5. Permit one tackle per round.
Picture this: 18th hole, tight match as your opponent leads by one. You get to tackle him, rugby style, once during the round but haven’t done so yet. He’s quaking in his FootJoys, wondering whether the impact is coming on the tee shot, while he’s setting up over that delicate greenside pitch or during the curling 10-footer to take the cash.
And scrap these five…
And, while we’re at it, here are five rules that ought to be banished:
1. Out-of-bounds stakes need to go the way of the dodo. Banish forever the lonely trudge back to the tee while the group behind fumes – just because your ball (that you still found!) was five centimetres outside the so-called bounds of the course. Treat OOB like a hazard: drop, add a shot, hit and move on.
2. That perfect, gun-barrel-straight tee shot you just hit wanders into a sand-filled divot (and likely a poorly filled one at that). Let’s call divots GUR and be done with it, right? Wrong – so say the R&A and USGA. Why? Because divots are grey areas. When is a divot no longer a divot? Well, we say if your marker is permitted to tell you whether or not your scuffed golf ball is fit for play, they can also adjudicate as to whether that ‘thing’ your ball is in is indeed an old divot or merely a hollow or depression.
3. Your ball ricochets off the lip of the bunker you’re trying to escape and hits you mid-follow-through. That’s a penalty? What advantage was gained? You’ve already suffered the ignominy of not escaping in one swipe; there’s no need to add a penalty stroke to the humiliation.
4. Why is sand considered a loose impediment on the green but not anywhere else? We say sweep it away wherever you can without moving the ball.
5. We’ve all played in groups with inquisitive players who ask, “What club did you hit?” Technically that’s a breach of Rule 8-1, but the practice is OK by our books. One man’s 8-iron is another man’s wedge, anyway.