How seriously are you taking golf in terms of scoring? Always playing by the rules? Really? Always getting out a club to measure a two-club-length from a water hazard or an obstacle, even in practise rounds with your mates? Then you probably should stop reading here, because the below wouldn’t be something for you! If you do read further you could be frightened by the fact how easy and enjoyable golf can be – without drifting away too much though. At your own risk of course!
Couple of days ago, the Golf Channel published a set of so-called “Relaxed Rules of Golf”. They were promoted intensively via the network and other social media channels – and to be honest; they didn’t surprise me at all. For years now people around the world are mourning about golf being too hard to play. My understanding was always, of course it’s hard when you try to play pars all the time, but that’s a great mental push and it has to be that hard! Playing a par round would be a dream coming true for me, but when everybody is true to oneself, pars are for professionals and not for weekend golf daddys, breaking in a round every 2 months or so.
All the former proposals out there like bigger holes, slower balls, etc. – absolutely nonsense! Truly rubbish ideas if you ask me. When you are taking golf seriously, which is absolutely fine, then please stick to the given rules. That’s especially true for tournaments which have effect on your personal handicap. Please, learn the good old rules and stick to them when it matters. That’s not too tough, folks! And when you are penelised by the rules and you have to card down a two-stroke penalty because you did something wrong… then so be it and be honest to yourself! Simply accept it!
However, what about the quick after-work 9 holes or the relaxed weekend round with some buddies? Would you totally stick to the rules as well? Frankly, I’m not! When I go out and play, I want to have fun! Sure, I want to get better, increase my skill set, lower my handicap, absolutely, but in the end of the day I definitely want to enjoy myself. Life and work is tough enough, why making our lives even more miserable with over-ruling leisure rounds of golf?! See, I don’t believe there is a black and white view in this matter.
When I go out and play and I have to take a penalty for dropping out of water, do I use my driver to measure the exact distance? No. Do I throw the ball somewhere onto the fairway for an easy shot ? No… I drop the ball somewhere near the spot where I believe it went into the water and where I can hit a decent, ok-ish next shot. Is that fine with the official rules, no but it almost is and it saves so much time around the course! So there is something like a grey-area between rules and playing just for fun. Everybody obviously can interpret these ways differently but I’m sure the guy who takes golf the relaxed way has more fun in the end – and the score maybe differ by two strokes on 18 holes to the other guy who did stick to the proper rules.
Now the Golf Channel proposed a set of easy rules which could help the golfer to increase the fun around the course. Not being overly penalised by a huge rule book and at the same time not as anarchic as one could believe: Here are the proposed relaxed rules of golf:
- MAXIMUM SCORE: Double par (i.e. 6 on par 3s, 8 on par 4s…)
- PENALTIES: All are one stroke, including out of bounds, water and lateral hazards, lost ball and unplayable lie. Drop a ball near where the original was lost and play on.
- SEARCH TIME: Two minutes to look for your ball. If lost, proceed under Rule 2.
- UNFORTUNATE LIES: With your playing partners’ consent, balls may be dropped out of divots or footprints, away from tree roots and any other dangerous lies.
- CONCEDED PUTTS: Putts may be conceded with your playing partners’ consent.
- EQUIPMENT: No restrictions, including number of clubs.
- COMMON SENSE: When in doubt, use common sense and fairness.
Golf Channel personalities Matt Ginella and Charlie Rymer were on the Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive” to introduce those relaxed rules of golf, which you can check out here:
The idea behind these relaxed rules, Ginella and Rymer explained, is to make the game more fun for those already playing (and not at an elite level) and to also make the game less intimidating for those learning to play.
“We’re not suggesting that golfers ignore the official rules,” Ginella said. “They should continue to be used for any type of competitive play. But when it’s a match among friends, relaxed rules can make the game easier, faster and more fun. These simply are common sense practices for avid amateurs, and it’s how the majority of the game is being played anyway.”
And to be very frank here, personally I’m sort of sticking to these rules already for years now in private rounds!
- Double par is nothing I really aim for but it’s a nice thing to just pick up the ball when you reach that score. Will clearly speed up the game!
- When I in some instance decided not to play a provisional ball and would not be able to find the first, then obviously I play a second one from the spot I believe I lost the first one. Who on earth walks back 250 yards to the tee box in a private round?!
- I never looked for a ball for 5 minutes as stated in the official rules in my whole life.
- As this is in the interest of everybody’s game, I believe nobody would have reasons not to accept a playing partner’s wish to drop away from a cart path, tree roots or any other unfortunate or dangerous lie.
- Obviously not valid for tournaments, but when you are out there with your buddies and they leave themselves with a 5-inch tap-in, what do you do? Exactly, that’s simply a gimmie!
- I’m actually carrying more than 14 clubs currently – because I’m testing out some things with long irons and hybrids. Why shouldn’t I?
- I believe using brain and good manners is always a good idea… in all parts of life. And the golf course simply reflects a big part of my life.
Summing up, I do believe if everybody could commit to a quick and fair play, we all would have more fun on the course and would think more positive about all the bogeys we score. Who needs over-sized holes or weirdly slow balls?! Stick to the fundamentals, play at reasonable fast pace with common sense in regards to rules and etiquette and treat your playing partners with the exact manners as you wished to be treated.
Happy (golf) life… Period