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To play golf by the Rules, we need to take time and learn how it’s done

GOLF By Vincent Wang'ombe | May 7th 2021
Thika Sports Club's Simon Ngige tees - off in the first round of the ninth leg of 2019/2020 Safari Tour Series at Sigona Golf Club, January 26, 2020. [Mose Sammy, The Standard]

One day many years ago, I played in a golf competition at Thika Sports Club. I was still a new golfer and had not taken time to internalise the Rules of Golf.

On the sixth hole, a longish par three, I pushed my tee shot to the right where the rough was succulent.

My caddie assured me we would find the ball and that there was no need to hit a provisional ball. When we got to where the ball was likely to have landed, my playing partners and I embarked on the search.

After about a minute of searching, my caddie advised me to go back to the tee to hit a “provisional” shot as it was unlikely that we were going to find my ball.

I had hardly walked 10 meters towards the tee when my ball was found. I started making way back to play my ball when one of the gentlemen I was playing with quickly announced that I could not play the ball and had to go to the tee to play another ball!

“Don’t you know the Rules of Golf?” he asked, “Once you turn your back on the ball, it will no longer be in play,” he said.

“Is there such a Rule?” I asked in astonishment. “Wang’ombe, you need to learn the Rules of Golf!” he answered quite irritated at having been questioned by a golf rookie.

I obliged and went back to the tee. Later that night, I took out a Rules of Golf book that my father had given me and read it from cover to cover. It was not that big and even though it was somewhat dated (printed in 1996, about six or seven years before the incidence), it was my only source of information.

Needless to say, I did not find any reference to the Rule that the gentleman was referring to.

That's when I started getting an interest in the Rules of Golf.

Today, the Kenya Golf Union will be conducting a Level one Rules of Golf training seminar; the first one for this year.

One of the good things that we have learnt since the Covid-19 pandemic started was the use of online platforms for meetings and seminars.

Previously, the seminars were being conducted physically in a golf club and most of the participants would be from the host club.

Luckily, with the online seminars, we are now getting many more delegates and are from different parts of the country.

Now that we have returned to playing golf and after one month of the grass on the golf courses growing without being trampled on by golfers, there are high chances that the rough will be succulent, nay, treacherous.

It is important for golfers to know the Rules of Golf to avoid faux-penalties imposed by those who do not seem to understand them better.

For those who might not be able to join the Kenya Golf Union’s Rules seminar today, or those who may have studied them a while back, there is a great online resource in the R&A website.

Vincent Wang’ombe is the General Manager of Kenya Open Golf Limited

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