The rules of golf can be so cruel. Only last week, defending champion Anna Davis missed the cut by two strokes after 36-holes of the Augusta National Women's Amateur. This was ultimately a result of the 17-year-old’s four-stroke penalty on the opening hole when she mistakenly played preferred lies in the rough twice.
Last year at LPGA Qualifying school, Alana Uriell was disqualified after she signed for a wrong score. She marked a bogey as a par and unfortunately as Rule 3.3b (3) says: “If the player returns a scorecard with a wrong score for any hole: returned score higher than actual score: The higher returned score for the hole stands; returned score lower than actual score or no score returned: The player is disqualified.”
Can you imagine their disappointment? When I’m playing golf and mess up a hole, or I hear stories like this, I am so relieved that I don’t play this game for a living. Playing for fun is often frustrating and challenging enough!
The R&A has just launched a new quick guide to the Rules of Golf, which covers 16 key themes including what to do before starting your round, understanding the different areas of the course, and how to proceed when you can’t play the ball as it lies. It’s aimed at beginners, but I think it’s worth us all taking a look as a refresher before the golf competition season kicks in.
The Rules of Golf for me bring back horrible memories of a maths exam. I was never very good at this subject, I’d know the answer but lacked confidence so I’d second guess myself and then become unsure, and that’s how I feel on the golf course if it’s a rule that I’m not readily familiar with. If it’s a match situation, that’s when I’m so pleased if I have a caddy – providing she knows the rules!
Let’s face it, there is no other sport like golf that has so many rules, and many of us probably become unintentional golf cheats without even realizing it! If leading amateur players and professionals become rule breakers, it’s inevitable that us mere mortal club players will make mistakes. All of us will often have to learn the hard way. Many years ago, I remember being told that I had improved my lie when a leaf fell from a tree after a practice swing. Of course, at the time I didn’t realise that I was doing anything wrong, but needless to say, I’ve never forgotten that rule!
I know a lot of clubs organise a Rules of Golf evening ahead of a new golf season, which is a great idea. We’ve had a winter break and it’s easy to forget how to swing a club as well as how to take a penalty drop!
Happy Easter and enjoy the Masters