Golf is a difficult game. Ask anyone who has played it or tried to.  I am talking about golf as a physical competitive sport.  If you are to compare golf to, say, bowling there is just no comparison.  A perfect score in bowling is 300.  Most professional bowlers have rolled  perfect games many times.  What is a perfect game in golf?  I have never heard any reference to such a concept, but one might say an 18 would be a perfect score.  Realistically though, that is absurd.  So let's say a score of all eagles would be a perfect game.  Still entirely unrealistically.  So let's move on and define a perfect golf game as a round of all birdies.  Not quite so unrealistic, but never accomplished by professional golfers.  For many years Al Geiberger was known as Mr. 59.  Referring to the fact that in a sanctioned tournament he shot a 59.  Since that time there have been other professionals who have shot the same score.  I don't know what par was on the course that Al shot his 59, but if it was 72, he was 13 under par.  Five shots short of the mythical all birdies score.  If par was less that 72, you get the picture.

 Ok, no arguments, golf is a difficult game.  That is only half the story.  Besides a devilishly difficult game, the sadistic Scots had to devise the rules of golf, and since there have been just a few changes to improve the situation some.  The rules make golf doubly difficult.  In bowling, you can't slide past the foul line.  That is about it.  Oh yes, only two reracks per game!!!

 The idea for this spiel came from a recent game where a player was assessed a penalty stroke for an infraction he (?) incurred.  It was terribly windy. His ball was on the green and he stood ready to put and put his club on the green behind the ball – known as grounding the club – then maybe to reconsider his intended line or to get his balance after being moved by a strong blast, he walked away from the ball and in the mean time the wind blew his ball a small distance.  He was deemed to have taken one stroke.  Now the rules of golf are so charitable that an official approached the golfer and informed him that his score is one stroke higher than he thought it was.  Had he not been approached by the nice official, and had submitted a wrong score, he would have been sent to jail for an undetermined period of time.

I don't know of all the ridiculous circumstances that have occurred because of these crazy rules, but here are a few.

A glfer, I think it was Graham Marsh hit his ball into a trap and had what the pros call a fried egg lie.  A rule of golf is that you can't ground your club when in a trap.  Why that is I don't know but some Scotsman thought it a good idea.  Well Marsh made a mighty swing and didn't get the ball out of the trap. In disgust he swung his club and hit the sand.  Oops, grounding the club.  One shot penalty.  Roberto Di (?), the Argentinian golfer won a tournament, well for a time. After completing a round the golfer must go into the scoring tent and review his card, and I think, but am not sure, the card of the other player he was playing with.  He signed a card that was incorrect.  There went the championship and the tournament.  Please tell me what that has to do with golf.

One of Paul Azingers claim to fame was his attempt to improve his footing.  If a player is in a sand trap the recommended practice is to wiggle your feet back and forth to get a good firm stance in the sand.  That wiggling is OK. Paul was in some shallow water trying to address his ball on the course. The slippery pebbles he was standing on bothered him and he began using his spikes like a rake to move the pebbles.  I kind TV viewer saw his actions and called the officials and told them of what he thought was an infraction.  Poor Paul was penalized a stroke.  I suppose there might be a defense of this rule, but golf being as rough as it is, the rules ought to bend in the other direction.

Occasionally they do.  After a very hard rain, the course can be almost unplayable.  Officials can invoke the "lift, clean, and place" rule, for a ball in the fairway.  Isn't that nice of them? A hunk of mud on the ball can be cleaned off, and the ball placed on a nice tuft of grass to improve the lie.  If, however, it rains pretty hard, but not to cause the officials to invoke the "lift, etc." rule and you hit your ball in the fairway and find when you get to it that it has a big chunk of mud on it.  Tough luck.  Is that golf?

A good golf shot from the fairway involves hitting the ball first and then taking a divot.  The divot should be replaced, but some divots are so shallow that there is not enough sod to allow it to be replaced.  In which case sometimes sand is poured in the divot.  If your ball should end up in the divot, you have no remedy available.  Just bite the bullet and hope for clean contact.

This is wild fantasy.  I would love to have the PGA come to me with the charge to review the rules of golf and make any changes that would improve the game. Would I have a field day!!!



  1. setty said,

    May 1, 2006 at 9:22 pm

    You can tell from the misspellings and the bad grammar that the blog was just rattled off by the seat of my pants, so to speak.
    I wasn’t sure that all of it was100% correct and wanted some verification from my golf knowledgeable son. He straightened me out about the Roberto Di Vincenza episode. Apparently, players keep the score of the playing partner, not their own. In the case in question, Roberto scored a three on the 17th hole of the Masters, and his playing partner scored it as a four. Whether Roberto neglected to review the card, or whether he didn’t catch the mistake, Bruce didn’t tell me. My dear friend says he didn’t review the card. (Naughty naughty) Anyway the four had to stand and Roberto missed tying Bob Goalby by one stroke. Had he won the play off the mistake meant he missed wearing a green jacket.
    A question I have is, what happens to the player that entered the wrong score?
    I suppose this incident would not happen now days. Walking along with the players is a sign carrying flunky that shows each players score against par, and another official is keeping the score and telling the flunky what number to put on the sign and its color. At the end of the tournament the player can look up at the football field sized score board and see his score, or if not that check the TV in the scoring tent. Why must a golfer also be a CPA. Like I say the game is tough enough just to play.
    My dear friend, defends the silly rule. It is part of the GRAND SCHEME OF GOLF ETIQUETTE. Well dah dah dah. I say get rid of the rule then the there would be nothing to breach and golf purists can work on getting golfers to stop chewing snuff. At least on TV.
    At least they don’t spit or rearrange their anatomy. Isn’t that enough etiquette.

  2. Bruce said,

    May 2, 2006 at 4:18 am

    I have a friend at work who up until this last year has been a score keeper at the San Diego Buick Open at Torrey Pines. He carries an electronic score keeping device and inputs the results for each hole for each golfer in the group. Then, when the group finishes, all of them go into the scoring booth where they go over everything together. I am not sure how this works when there is a rule assesment and how the ‘flunky’ has to know all the rules.

    But I do know that just a couple weeks ago there was a DQed golfer on the tour for an incorrect scorecard. He had a 7 but signed for a 5.

    As for chewing tobacco, I read that the guy who won just yesterday in New Orleans had tobacco drool on his shirt by the time he finished his round. And, FWIW, NBA guys don’t spit on the court.

    Also here is reverse question. Would you get rid of the rule that Tiger Woods used a few years back. His ball was under a pine tree about 15 yds off the fairway. The pine tree was the kind where the branches are basically 2 feet off the ground. He had to crawl on his knees to get to his ball. Between the ball (which was totally unplayable) and the pin, there was a guy wire holding up a scoreboard. He claimed a free drop from that lie because to hit the ball from its position directly to the pin would have required him to hit it at the obstruction – the guy wire and scoreboard. So he was allowed to move his ball into a nice spot from where he had an unobstructed view of the green. This whole thing transpired about 150 yds from the green. He went on to win the tournament.

  3. setty said,

    May 2, 2006 at 1:56 pm

    I sure would!! Like I said there are some rules that are very liberal. I don’t think it is fair that he got a good drop in thaT situation. I don’t think it fair either, that the same man considered a half ton (?) boulder, that was blocking a direct shot to the green, was a moveable obstruction and got a bunch of spectators to join him in moving it. I am uncomfortable when a golfer airmails the green and his ball ends up in the bleachers surrounding the green, and he gets a free drop. Who knows where the ball might have ended up if there were not the bleachers there.
    And the list goes on and on.
    Hey, NBA players dribble sweat on the floor. Sometimes so bad another flunky has to take a towel and clean up the mess. There should be a rule against sweating profusely.

  4. setty said,

    May 27, 2006 at 6:19 pm

    Hey, I just saw Tom Watson make a putt by hitting it backward toward himself. My friend Sue says you caN’t reach across the hole to stroke a putt, but he did and apparently it was legal. So my f riend is crazy. And I won’t mind telling her.

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