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Application of golf rules as a way of life

By | January 7th 2011


Honesty, integrity, respect for the game of golf and other players are part of the fundamental cornerstones of the game of golf.

In spite of a few rotten eggs in the basket, made up of perpetual cheats, the majority of golfers are honest and want to play to the rules. The major handicap remains inadequate and very often, partial and incomplete knowledge of the golf rules.

It is imperative that all of us golfers strive towards the elevated platform where a ‘moderate to good’ base in the rules of golf is achieved and maintained. The game demands very high standards of etiquette and it is important that all golfers recognise and maintain that attribute.

Social practices

Outside of the golfing circles the concept of ‘manners maketh man’ urges society toward that elevated platform of good social practices that leads to a well organised and safe society in which the work of the policeman is reduced to giving directions only.

And ‘the manners that maketh man’ are good manners; not just any manners. Adoption of good golf etiquette into a way of life, in ordinary living, brings that joyous day ever closer.

Let’s now look at some pitfalls to avoid as we work our way towards the ‘elevated platform’. But, along the way, we must remain vigilant, cognizant of the fact that we must weed out all the bad elements in order to achieve and maintain that goal. So be alert and on the look-out as you play your round of golf.

There are subtle ways in which those that are inclined to bending or breaking the rules, depending on your perspective, practise their craft; look out for some of these crafty pieces that may be taking place right under your nose.

Golf Rule 18 deals with ‘ball at rest moved’. There have been many and heated discussions revolving around the word ‘moved’ in this rule. There are those who proffer that ‘moved’ must include a complete revolution of the ball. That is an incorrect and thoroughly erroneous importation of a concept not covered by the rule. ‘Moved’ means shifted from the original position. The actual definition in the Rules: ‘A ball is deemed to have ‘moved’ if it leaves its position and comes to rest in any other place’. The only caveat being that it must be perceptible. Even if the ball has shifted from the original position by the smallest fraction of a micron, the ball has moved and the rule has been infringed. This, in fact, is a very good example of a situation where the best judge of the infringement is the player himself. He is the one most likely to notice even the almost imperceptible shift because he has his eyes trained on the ball.

And on many occasions players have called this infringement on themselves. And that is when the principles enshrined in the Rules of Golf really take on a life in everyday living. When the great golfer Bobby Jones was complimented for calling an infringement on himself, which cost him a tournament, his rejoinder was profound, "You may as well compliment a man for not robbing a bank."

The same rule, under clause 18-2 stipulates that if a player, his partner or either of their caddies lifts a ball in play or moves it or touches it purposely, except with a club in the act of addressing it, or when the equipment of the player causes the ball to move, the player incurs a penalty of one stroke.

Highest level

If the ball has been moved, it must be replaced; except when the movement of the ball occurs after the player has begun the stroke or the backward movement of the club for the stroke and the stroke is made. But please note that the penalty stroke stands.

Rule 18-2b calls on players to exercise their self policing at the highest level. It deals with the ball moving after address. It states: ‘if a player’s ball in play moves after he has addressed it, other than as a result of a stroke, the player is deemed to have moved the ball and incurs a penalty of one stroke.

The ball must be replaced, unless the movement of the ball occurs after the player has begun the stroke or the backward movement of the club for the stroke and the stroke is made’. It is essential to appreciate that this rule recognises that sometimes it is difficult to abort the swing after one has got into full acceleration for the shot and hence the provision, ‘unless the movement occurs after the player has begun the backward movement and the shot is made’.

This is a delicate rule to apply, especially on the green, as the movement could be almost imperceptible. So it is your call. If you think the ball has moved then call the infringement, and consequently the penalty, on yourself. But remember to replace the ball.

Be on the look out on the fairway as well, for the ball could slightly roll back after you have moved your club from the ball, for the backward movement. When marking the ball on the green, place your marker behind the ball; not on the side. It is much easier to remember that you placed the marker behind the ball rather than that you marked it on the side.

And in situations where the ball is marked on the side and the ball is replaced in front of the marker, the player may gain as much as a whole ball in distance! Granted that deception is not always the driving force, it is better to be safe within the rules.

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