We Don't Need No Stinkin' Rules!
By bkuehn1952 on 10/7/11
The man needs no introduction by now, but at oob we believe those who deserve to be recognized should be recognized. Therefore, it's is my greatest pleasure to share with you Brian "bkuehn1952" Kuehn's latest submission. And in case you missed any of his 25 previous posts, I've linked them out here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. Enjoy!

As a Rules Snob, I regularly witness fellow players completely mangle the Rules of Golf. Even Rules Snobs such as myself routinely mess-up relatively common situations. Learn from my errors and those I have witnessed.
  • Repairing the Green – Technically we no longer have spike marks with the switch to soft spikes. So any imperfection on the green is fair game for repair, right? Wrong. Many people scuff the green while walking. I have seen greens that are so scuffed up that it looked like two squirrels had been mating around the hole. Unfortunately, you can’t fix those marks on the line of your putt. Disease and mower error also can damage a green but are off-limits when you are putting. Aeration holes are another entry on the prohibited list. Deer, elk or bear tracks? Nope! Sadly, the only items you are allowed to fix on the green are pitch marks and plugs from previous hole locations. Any other repair work gets you 2 extra strokes.

  • Relief from Impediments in a Bunker – This one really comes into play in the northern tier of the country during Autumn. Those sand-filled depressions are leaf magnets. As a result, one will often find oneself playing from a bunker overflowing with leaves. Players routinely move all the leaves out of the way in order to make a swing at the ball, being careful at all times not to ground their club. Oops! Not only are you not allowed to move the leaves out of your way, you can’t even touch them with your club until you make your stroke. Add 2 and do not pass “Go”.

  • Water Hazards – Everyone remembers the 2 club-length option for relief. Unfortunately, that only applies to lateral water hazards (red stakes or lines). When confronted with a water hazard (yellow stakes or lines) one has only three options: replay from the spot where the last stroke was taken, move back along a line formed by the hole and the point where your ball last crossed the line of the hazard or play it out of the hazard like Bill Haas; two club lengths is not an option. (Note: the hazard Haas played from was a lateral water hazard but it was too nice an example to pass up)

  • Relief from Obstructions – Carts paths are the most commonly abused obstructions but just about any permanent man-made object can result in a breach. The rules talk about the nearest point but most golfers look for the nicest point of relief. For most right-handed golfers, the nearest point is usually (but not always) to the left of the obstruction. If the left side has prickly bushes while the right has verdant grass, the drop is invariably made to the right. If you do that you have made an improper drop and must face the music as John Daley recently discovered; add 2 strokes.

  • Improving One’s Intended Swing Path – Some people will become a mini tree-trimmer when confronted with an obstructed swing. Make enough practice swings and any interfering vegetation will soon be reduced to compost or firewood. I still chuckle when I think back about a competitor preparing to hit from native grasses. It looked like he was harvesting wheat with a scythe as he slowly whittled down the offending stalks. It was all in vain as he had to add 2 strokes.
As with any rules situation, there will often be exceptions or extenuating factors which are subject to interpretation. My examples are simplified and do not apply to every case. I certainly do not know every rule, few people do. Still, it usually makes sense to be conservative before taking relief or a drop.

* * *

So what have I missed? Any interesting rules situations* you can share? Let’s hear from you!

*Okay, interesting rules is an oxymoron. As part of my job, however, I read the fine print in insurance contracts. With that in mind, one might understand why I find the Rules of Golf an interesting subject.

This was written by Brian Kuehn, a reader/follower/fellow oober and the opinions are 100% his and do not reflect those of oobgolf in anyway. Enjoy! I'm sure he's ready for your feedback.

photo by Phoenix Dark-Knight

[ comments ]
birdieXris says:
Outstanding article as always Brian. I notice most of these myself. I think this is definitely on the list of most abused rules. I think it's nearly complete too. I think the one thing you left out is OB. OB is hit until it's in bounds. Stroke and distance. All the time i see guys hit OB and drop where it went in, adding only a stroke. Personally, i'd like to see this rule changed for the good of the game. I think you should have the option of stroke and distance OR dropping within a club length of point of entry and taking a 2 stroke penalty.
wrhall02 says:
yep, OB "violantions" I see often. If there is even a shadow of doubt, hit a provisional! Saves the walk of shame.
@birdie's two stroke idea (instead of stroke and distance) would be a change in rules I would support.
homermania says:
I've always hated the rule about not fixing spike marks. Someone scuffs their feet right through your line and you have to putt through it? BS.
legitimatebeef says:
Once my ball came to rest behind a sizable twig in a greenside bunker. My friend said I could and should remove it. I said Nope, against the rules. I played it, it somehow came out perfectly and the golf gods rewarded my fidelity by making the ball go in the hole. True story.

One mangling of the rules I see a lot is when a golfer hits a tee shot OB or out of play, re-tees, puts the next one out of play as well, then just says "F IT" and goes and drops a ball in the general vicinity. When it comes to the rules, good intentions only goes so far.
dartboss04 says:
@birdie...completely agree on a modified OB rule...it would definitely speed up play...
bducharm says:
We have a cartpath that runs inside of a hazard. Many guys think they can get relief from the cartpath inside the hazard but they cannot.

@homermania - while I totally understand your reasoning, spike marks or scuffs are no different than divots in the fairway and your ball ending up there. Rub o' the green my friend!!! Golf is not fair...
beisenhauer says:
I see a lot of people mistakenly think that relief from a water hazard can be taken along the "line of flight" rather than on line with the pin. Another common mistake is taking relief from an immovable obstruction interfering with one's line of play, e.g. a greenside fan interfering with a chip shot.
shaffer1969 says:
Similar to OB, I see lost ball played as a drop in the general area and a stroke instead of stroke and distance. I do like birdie's idea about 2 strokes and a drop on OB. Could be applied to this as well.
windowsurfer says:
Player hits tee shot OB. Hits another and group proceeds, believing ball (shot 3) is ok. Can't find shot 3; player goes back to tee to hit another. Shot 3 ball is found b4 player hits next shot from tee, but player can't be reached and so he hits another tee shot. So . . . did he squander opportunity to play shot 3, or is that still ok, even though he hit a shot believing shot 3 to be lost?
bkuehn1952 says:
Provided his second tee shot (3rd stroke) was found with the 5 minutes allowed AND he announced that his third tee shot (5th stroke) was a provisional, he would be allowed time outside the 5 minutes to come back and identify the ball (Mark O'Meara Rule). If he did not announce his third tee shot (5th stroke) as a provisional, then he must continue play with his third tee shot and lies 5.
CeeBee says:
Birdie suggests 2 strokes for OB. The league I play in allows that or re-tee. Your choice. Works well and saves time.
windowsurfer says:
thx bkuehn
joe jones says:
The OB rule is stupid. Golfer A can hit a ball 300 yards and be OB by 1 yard . He must tee it up again playing 3. Golfer B can swing and miss the ball completely and he is playing 2. Dumb.
Anybody not taking the time to repair ball marks should take up swimming. At least the water will fill in the hole when he leaves the pool. Of course he is probably the kind of guy that pees in the pool
jev says:
The top-10 of rule infringements are:
10. Grounding your club in a hazard. Yes, that include those leaves in a bunker or water hazard!
9. Agreeing to waive a rule
8. Dropping on a wrong place or using a wrong method
7. Not holing-out in strokeplay
6. Touching the line of putt
5. Lifting a ball for identification without marking or informing your marker
4. Improving swing path
3. Improving the lie of the ball
2. Not following the proper procedure when taking relief from an immovable obstruction
...and the number 1 infringement of the Rules of Golf is... (drum-roll):
1. Giving advice => www.youtube.com/watch?v=TlxbYSR_5us
robbie.dejarnette says:
The biggest I see in the group I play in is improving the lie. One guy presses his foot down behind the ball, another fixes EVERYTHING that may be in his path on the green and a third will "fluff up" his ball before every stroke, moving it to a more favorbale position one or two inches away. And their response, every time, is "We're not playing for that much money." And my response, "So how much would it take for you to play by the rules?" Haven't gotten an answer ot that one yet!
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