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Do You Know The Rules?

Do You Know The Rules?

Last week I went to Tandridge Golf Club in Surrey to help out with a rules shoot for Golf Monthly. We arrived at 7am and didn’t leave until late afternoon and it was freezing! The reason I’m telling you this is because the day not only highlighted to me the number of golf rules, which of course I know there are hundreds, but I was surprised at just how many I had no clue or was unsure of the correct ruling.

I doubt I’m the only one and to be fair, most of them rarely crop up, but rules are rules and we should know them or at least have an idea if they do present themselves! I’m not going to run through the whole list, which was overwhelming, but I spent the day in and out of bunkers, penalty areas, on the tee, a putting green, in the rough and the miscellaneous list seemed to go on forever! 

The other thing is that you get a rule ingrained in your head and don’t realise, or forget that it has been updated. The best of us can find ourselves in that awkward situation. Take Rory McIlroy for example. Earlier this year at the T & T Pebble Beach pro-am, he encountered a 2-shot penalty on the par-5 7th hole. After hitting a wayward drive, he had to take an unplayable. The rule states a ball can roll up to a club length, but unbeknown to McIlroy this rule changed in 2023 and he was using the rule from 2019 and dropped his ball a club length to the right off the original line.

I’m sure there are some rules that we’d love to change. Being able to take relief from a divot springs to mind. Many years ago I succumbed to a two-stroke penalty when I took a practice swing and knocked some leaves off the tree behind me. It certainly didn’t improve the area of my intended swing. I think this is a silly rule, but at least I’ve never forgotten it!

Given our British weather, winter rules might hang around for a while, but don’t make the same mistake as Lydia Ko, who was hit with a whopping seven strokes at last year’s Dana Open. On the Saturday, pick, clean and place was declared for all holes, but only for holes 1 and 10 on the Sunday. Without realising, Ko lifted her ball on four other holes, so three holes became double bogeys and a potential birdie became a par.

The competition season is upon us, so I would advise you to gen up on the rules, or at least refresh your mind for the most common ones because you can bet your bottom dollar that a ruling will arise in your next competition round or when you caddie for someone.

I’m definitely not a rules expert now, I was probably concentrating too much on the pictures being taken, but it is important to know the rules. It’s hard enough to make pars, we certainly don’t want shots added to our score!

Alison Root

Women's Editor Golf Monthly 

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