"It's Okay" Rules of Golf
By mustang6560 on 9/18/12
Thanks to oober caddietrap for the tip!

Marketplace, the American Public Media radio program, featured an interesting article last night about golf. The article centered on how the game is struggling to keep current golfers (the game lost five million golfers over the last decade, according to the National Golf Foundation) and what organizations are trying to do to attract new golfers.

One of the initiatives discussed in the segment is the "It's Okay" Rules. I've heard about the "Tee It Forward" Initiative, however, I hadn't heard of the "It's Okay" Rules (there are 18 rules), so I looked them up. The Rules of Golf can be intimating and challenging for new golfers, so Play Golf America decided to issue a relaxed version so newbies can enjoy their experience on the golf course more.

Here are a few of the rules.

It's Okay Rules

  • It's Okay to start each hole from the shortest tees, or make up your own length. It's Okay to start at the 150 yard marker if you like.

  • It's Okay to make the ball easier to hit by rolling it around and setting it up on a little tuft of grass. In fact, it's okay to 'tee the ball up' ANYWHERE when you are first learning to play.

  • It's Okay to throw the ball out of a bunker if you try to hit it but miss - we recommend giving at least one try, but it's okay to do what you like. Be sure to rake your footprints, too.

  • It's Okay to move your ball away from trees, rocks or very hilly lies. It's okay to give yourself a better lie and an easier shot.

  • It's Okay to play any number of holes and call it a round of golf. You can play 3 holes, 6 holes, 9 holes, 12 holes, etc.
A friend of mine recently took up the game and he was annoyingly stubborn about "playing by the rules", so he insisted on playing each ball "as it lies". It's a noble idea, however, when you shoot 120-something, it's not imperative that you play by the Rules of Golf. In my opinion, until you can break 90, "it's okay" to improve your lie, take "root relief", etc. And now, I have a set of rules to reference for the future!

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Image via Play Golf America

[ comments ]
Backquak says:
shoot 100+, Its Ok to improve your lie, toss it out of the bunker, take a mulligan, drop another ball without penalties.
shoot 85-100, Its Ok to improve your lie, and limit mulligans to 1 per nine.
shoot <85, then play by the damn rules you cheater!
rmetz676 says:
This is how my wife plays when we go together. She tees one up where ever my drive lands (or the nearest part of the fairway), and we play against each other from there. I think most women, and some men, would be better served by starting at the 200/150/100 marker. The problem is, if they paid full price, they want to play the full course. 5 1/2 hours and 130 strokes later, they got their money's worth.
spackler455db says:
In order to create a more enjoyable round, that is all ok. However, if i played with someone who did this and then at the clubhouse claimed to shoot x, I will call you out and make fun of you.
bkuehn1952 says:
A fellow Oober, GrandpaB70, was touting a similar message with his "Modified Rules of Golf." I don't think anyone has a problem with beginners or people that aren't serious about their game (serious = maintaining a USGA handicap) creating their own set of rules. Definitely need some leeway on the Rules no matter how serious you want to be if you are holding up play. Once you pass the beginner stage or want to measure your game or compete with your peers, it becomes important to play by the Rules.

When I play with the grandkids or my wife, we typically engage is all sorts of variations of play and rules (and I do not record the score or list is as "P").
joe jones says:
I can't wait to what the rule Nazi's are going to say about this. When GrandpaB70 who happens to be one of my playing partners offered his Modified Rules of Golf he was vilified. When Grandpa and his lovely wife join us we play with a 2 handicap that averages 285 off the tee, a senior (me) that plays a modified composite yardage, Grandpa that plays from the yellows, his wife who plays from the greens and a senior that plays from the whites. We have a blast and guess who usually wins. The lady. The point is, we all play the course we are comfortable with and have a good time. I think that is what the Golf Gods intended.
SpaceMaNy0 says:
I like the idea, but I didn't like how you call someone 'annoyingly stubborn' about wanting to play by the rules. Those rules apply from pros to schmoes.

Call me a nazi or whatever, but the way to get better is to play all those bad lies so you know what to do in the future and are better at it.
JDriem says:
I ok if someone im playing with doesn't want to play by the rules but don't try telling me or other people you beat me at the end of the day when your playing with "modified" or "It's OK" rules while im playing by the rules of golf.
Wes11point5 says:
I don't care what anyone does on the golf course. Play by the rules or don't. Drop another ball or don't. Keep a score or don't. Just don't f-in hold my group up, fix your ball marks and rake the damned bunker when you are done. Oh, and no spitting stupid sesame seed shells on the damned green.
Bryan K says:
When my round is so bad, it's not going to affect my handicap other than simply rollling a good round off the bottom, I will take some liberties to make the round more tolerable.
mantajim says:
So, are we teaching our kids that 'it's OK to cheat' or 'you don't have to play by the rules' or 'the rules don't apply to you.' Hell, why not just make up your score, hell why even play. At what point do you decide to play by the rules. Is that a black and white line or is it kinda fuzzy gray. Maybe I'll cheat in this round or maybe not, I'll wait and see how the round goes. Sounds alot like the proverbial slippery slope. Every round that I play is either a tournament or for money, I never think about my playing partners cheating. But when I've observed someone cheating, I've avoided playing with them again. Cheating is NOT OK.
joe jones says:
SpaceMaNyO. If you joined our group we would welcome you with open arms, applaud your playing by the rules and certainly would not preach about how we choose to play. The rule Nazi,s are he ones that ridicule anyone that doesn't play by their rules.
legitimatebeef says:
I don't really care what people do in the privacy of their own group but speaking for myself I have to agree with spaceman. I have always enjoyed playing by the rules even as a beginner. One thing about golf I always found cool was that a score, provided you kept it honestly and fairly was in some sense official. Thanks to handicapping and USGA slope and rating system, scores can give us some sense of how we stack up to the whole wide world of golfers. Again I don't have an issue with ppl modifying the game to suit their abilities but I don't know that it needs to be standardized and promoted en mass. The majority of people out there aren't following RoG anyways.
Matt McGee says:
I'll second legitimatebeef's comment.
BME_Badger says:
I don't mind beginners or infrequent players doing little things like improving their lie or taking one crack at a bunker before tossing it out.

What I do mind is playing in competitions or league play and having players not follow the rules. I play in a fairly liberal rules league (can move the ball in the fairway with your club to improve your lie, drop your ball anywhere on the line of flight if it goes OB or into a water hazard, etc) but it irks me to no end when some players will just pick up when they assume you're giving them the putt (excuse me I wasn't planning on it), place their ball ahead of the tee marker, or don't mark their ball on the green properly.
mjaber says:
"The Rules of Golf can be intimating and challenging for new golfers..."

Really? Intimating?
C-4 says:
you choice to pay by the rules...etiquette is a must...nothing like playing with clowns who step in your put line
Kurt the Knife says:
I find if I don't consistently play by the same set of rules, I can't get a solid sense whether I'm improving or not.
That said, as rank beginners my instructor urged my wife and I both to play from the short tees, use a tee in the rough or fairway and use the "hand wedge" out of bunkers after a try or two. Certainly made the early rounds less discouraging.
Oh, I also recommend 3 par courses for beginners.
Nojdemo2 says:
If you don't play by the rules, it's a practice round and the score don't count. You can give yourself better lies or throw the ball out of bunkers all you like, hell, I've done it myself, but if you do, then you're not playing Golf. You may be using golf clubs to hit a golf ball on a golf course, but it's not Golf.
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