To Each His Own
Today's post is inspired by the extensive dialog on Friday's article. A pretty intensive conversation about the Rules of Golf ensued, and I had mentioned in a short post that I thought everyone should play the game the way that gives them the most enjoyment. As I re-read that, I thought I should expound a little and let's give this topic its own platform with this post, OK?

First of all, since I normally give away a wedge to the reader who submitted the subject for Tuesday, I'm going to change it up a bit. I invite all of you who have participated in this dialog, and those who read but didn't write to send me an email on the link below with "Choose Me!" in the subject line. I'll draw a winner from the list and announce it on Friday.

Now, on to the subject of "The Rules of Golf." The first list of 13 Rules were put into effect for the Annual Challenge for the Edinburg Silver Club in 1744, and were quite limited and simple. They basically defined a game where you tee it up, hit it until it’s in the hole, then go to the next one, with provisions for a few perils which might befall you in the process. But as the game has progressed, the Rules of Golf and all the decisions have become monumental. Even the tour professionals struggle with them every week, but they have a Rules Official at the ready to help them interpret. We don't.

My take on this game is that the primary reason most of us play it is for FUN. And my observance is that very, very few golfers play by the Rules verbatim. Most club and amateur competitions have at least a few “local rules” and waive the 14 club limit. They often offer up mulligans for sale, and other variations. In recreational play, golfers take all kinds of liberties with the Rules and that’s just fine – if it keeps you coming out to play and you enjoy yourself, so what?

On the other hand, there were some good points made about legitimacy of handicaps if you don’t play strictly by the Rules and that’s very valid. But if a guy has a handicap that is “favored” by such play, who’s he really hurting but himself? Tee it up against him in a strict competition, and you’ll trounce him if your handicap was established by more “legal” play.

My whole point is this, guys: This game is not growing in number of players or rounds played. Courses everywhere are closing because of it. I’ll grant you that there are a lot of reasons – cost, time, conflicts – but research tells us that the number one reason golfers play less is that they don’t get better . . . the game is too dang hard! And a mind-boggling list of Rules doesn’t help that, does it?

All of us are hooked. We love this game for all its maddening challenges and intricacies. But I can have just as much fun playing in a tournament as I can going out in the afternoon for a leisurely few holes, hitting multiple shots, trying new things, or in “vacation golf” with my business partner, where we toss in the occasional mulligan . . . just because we want to.

My point is that "to each his own," and as long as playing your golf the way you want to play it gives you enjoyment, then you are doing it the right way!

That's my .02 on the subject. Be sure to send in that email so that you can have a chance to win a new EIDOLON V-SOLE wedge!
The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.


[ comments ]
birdieXris says:
Good points all around. Speaking for myself again, i don't mind people playing the way they want. Sometimes i even encourage it if they're having a bad day or are just beginning. My problem comes from the people that just don't know it and play their tournaments like that anyway. If it's a scramble or even a local tourney, you have an obligation to the rest of the field to play by all the rules applicable wether you're in contention or not. I think practicing the most often used/discussed rules when you play recreationally is the best way to make them "not hard" anymore.
10/12/10
 
mjaber says:
I have no problem with "bending" the rules, as long as it's applied uniformly throughout a particular round, and everyone in the group agrees to it. If you don't keep an official handicap, but you play to the same rules that you have determined are best for your enjoyment (mulligans, OB/lost ball rules modifications), have at it and have fun. Other games/sports can have different rules, house rules if you will, why not golf?

Being consistent makes you better, no matter what we're talking about. Golf, parenting, driving, typing. (cont.)
10/12/10
 
knh555 says:
Terry, I agree wholeheartedly. However, to birdieXris' point, at least some of your practice should be they way you play when it "counts", whatever "counts" means to you. I also race small sailboats and, at our club, we run our more casual fleet racing each weekend to the same rules that we expect to see at Nationals. This helps us build the habits required when we go off the lake to larger events so we don't make costly mistakes like failing to check in with the race committee. Precisely because the rule book is so complicated, it requires regular exposure and practice to get it right. On the other hand, if you know you'll never need to play to strict(er) rules, then of course have and it as you see fit. Not that you need my or anyone else's permission.
10/12/10
 
birdieXris says:
While we're still on the subject of rules, this was just posted by Golf.com:

www.golf.com/golf/tours_news/article/0,28136,202
10/12/10
 
mjaber says:
When I first started playing, I hit alot of 2nd tee shots. After a while, I decided that hitting again and again from the tee wasn't helping. I limited myself to 1 mulligan per 9, and I stuck to it. Eventually, I got to the point where I didn't need them anymore. It's still part of the rounds I play with my friends, because of the different skill levels we're all at. When I go out by myself, the mulligans go away.

Same thing goes for putts. In a round with my friends, they'll call a putt "good." That's OK with me, because they say the same when I'm within "tap-in" range. I still putt out... I like hearing the ball drop in. When I'm out by myself, everything finishes in the hole. (cont.)
10/12/10
 
mjaber says:
The only rule I don't see myself ever adhearing to, unless I decide to establish a handicap and play in sanctioned events is "Stroke and distance." This more for pace of play, and has been talked about ad nauseum here and on the boards. If I thought my tee shot was in play, but get to where I think it is and it's disappeared, I take 2 strokes and hit from the rough around where I thought my ball was (I do hit a provisional if I think it's lost when I hit my tee shot).

Am I within the exact rules of golf? No. Do I enjoy the rounds I play? Every single one.

BTW- We have a "pot" when we play monopoly that you get if you land on GO. Any payments from chance/community chest, as well as the "Get Out of Jail" fine go in there.
10/12/10
 
windowsurfer says:
Like many others, our Head Pro used to give one fast rules tip b4 Men's League evenings. That knowledge, right before we competed, had the cumulative effect of making everyone know the rules and we all tended to fudge less, even outside of league play. Fewer squabbles overall, and we shared a sense of accomplishment/confidence from this.
10/12/10
 
lcgolfer64 says:
Thanks for the follow up on the last thread, Terry. I'm one of the 'contributors.' I got a little cyber-heated in the debate; I’ll apologize here in the open forum for that. [The sleeping lion got poked one too many times, I guess.]

I may have not explained myself very well in that last discussion. You've summed it up quite nicely. I try my very best to play my rounds following the rules of golf, simple as that. I don’t take mulligan’s (carded a 9 on a par 4 two weeks ago) I don’t take gimmie’s (yes I’ve recorded 4 putts) don’t improve my lies (broke a club and almost a wrist once) don’t practice in the sand (penalized myself for touching the sand walking into it) etc. These are self-imposed as they should be. Again, personally I try and play following the rules. On the last thread, BirdieX even pointed out where I was incorrect on a rule, 8.1 Advice, which I imposed upon myself - thanks Birdie. [Cont’d]
10/12/10
 
lcgolfer64 says:
[Cont’d]
I admit I'm learning all the time about the game. I’ve yet to play in leagues or tournaments honestly because of that. I record a handicap – the ESC scoring still bothers me because it’s not what I shot, but if that’s what the rules are, I’ll follow it, though I don’t agree with it.

I've played with folks that don't always follow some of the rules and that’s okay I guess. Mostly because they are beginners (as I once was) and want to have a fun and learn to play. They come out, and they play and that's good for golf in general, as you mentioned and I guess that was my whole point.
10/12/10
 
bobhooe says:
I wont look up a rule in the middle of a round unless a wager is involved but have played with many prople who will not re-tee after hitting one ob. I feel like if I break the rules it just ends up coming back to me later in the round. stupid karma.
10/12/10
 
MiddleAgedGuy says:
I try to follow all the rules, and agree strongly with knh555 in that I try to adhere to the military's admonishment to "practice like you fight." When I get sick of stupid penalties killing my score, I work harder to improve (clearly I still have work to do).

But I don't look down my nose at people who see it differently. If someone cards a 6 after two lost balls in business golf, I have to ask myself which I care about more--being right, or having a pleasant day... Though I do agree with birdieXris; seeing rules fudging in a tourney would drive me nuts too.
10/12/10
 
sepfeiff says:
@BirdieXris - agree. I definitely think its rude to correct or "pro" someone else's round. If they ask, then great.. If they just picked up a golf club 20 mins ago, maybe they don't care that much. On the other hand tournaments must be played within the rules of the game or local course rules... which is one of the main reasons I don't play in them. Golf Channel AM tour, Golf Galaxy AM tour, regional competitive tournaments, no way. Too many sandbaggers and cheaters, theres no way i'm going to spend even a dollar to get cheated.
10/12/10
 
birdieXris says:
@sepfeiff - yea that's what i found out this year. I was an AmTour Rookie and it's crazy what happens on tour. About the only way you're assured to play with someone who really belongs in your flight is to play the championship flight with the 0 handicappers.
10/12/10
 
legitimatebeef says:
The rules of golf are important. Without rules, you're just wandering around a field whacking at a ball. Sorry but that doesn't interest me. If people are shying away from golf because "it's too hard" then fuck 'em. At some point you have to stop pandering to the lowest common denominator. Golf is fun and everlasting because it is hard. At the end of the day its just a game. If you can't have fun playing it, then you are the problem, not the game or its rules. If you feel like carrying 15 clubs, fine that to me doesn't violate the spirit of the game. But when you improve your lie or give yourself a putt, you're not really playing golf anymore are you. These are basic, primal rules of the game. Violating these is like playing soccer using your hands.
10/12/10
 
dartboss04 says:
I definitely agree with the wedge guy here. Honestly, I think you just need to be prepared to be flexible depending on the situation, whether fun, competitive, business, etc. I play a couple times a week, usually once with buddies and the other in a competitive league. Personally, I follow the rules of golf in each situation, because I want to know what I really shot and now track on oob!, but if my friends want to drop at the point in which they crossed the OB line and take a stroke instead of teeing it up again, it doesn't bother me at all.

The problem I have is actually confronting someone with a rules violation, and typically I just won't, unless someone is questioning the correct play. Most violations already involve a bad shot (hazard, OB, lost ball, etc.), so the person is already pissed off. I probably just have to grow a pair and speak up, but we're all out there to have a good time, so it's easier sometimes to just keep your mouth shut.
10/12/10
 
dottomm says:
As much as I like to play by the rules to challenge myself. I tell people just getting started that Golf is a game of etiquette over rules. Learn the etiquette; like pace of play, not standing on someones putting line. No talking during someones backswing. etc. If they can follow these " rules " and still enjoy the game. Keep playing. You'll pick up the Proper Rules the more you play.
10/12/10
 
tennesseeboy says:
I've only been playing this game a few years but I've always tried to played by the rules. The first year I played (at age 42) my best score was 117. I enjoyed the game as much then as I do now. For me, playing by the rules is just being honest with yourself. Sometimes after a bad shot it's easier to just hit another ball. That's completely legal in golf if you count the stroke and add a penalty. Not counting the strokes (a Mulligan) doesn't make the "do over" any more fun, it just makes your score dishonest. I'm amazed when I see people play a round of golf and they pretend that all of their bad shots never happened. Does that really make golf more fun?
10/12/10
 
Envythepea says:
I think as you become a better golfer with time and practice--it's easier to play by the rules. When I first started and was hacking it around the course in 130 strokes or more, I'd improve my lie to give me greater probability of making good contact and getting the feel for the shot (I'm not talking about kicking it out of the sand or from deep rough to the fairway, just prop it up slightly if it was nestled down on a bare lie). As my ability improved I felt I could afford the bad lies and take my lumps. I hardly ever cheat anymore.
10/12/10
 
twomore2mr says:
I've enjoyed learning the game and playing it the way it should be played...keeps me going out there! ;)
10/12/10
 
Trav says:
To each his own, but I try to consider the venue. When I'm playing with my wife on a Sunday afternoon, I'm not going to ruin my club hitting off the rough roadway behind a green that is expressly within play, but of course I would hit from there in a real event. I have held up play for 5-10 minutes in a championship to get a formal ruling from the rules pro, but on a late afternoon round where everyone wants to get in as many holes as they can before dark I'm going to take a quick drop or pick up the really short putts so I don't inconvenience everyone behind me. If I'm playing a semi-serious Saturday round with friends I don't cut corners. IMO, common sense goes a long way.
10/12/10
 
BigDoctorJ says:
Can't wait to see what Shane has to say about these comments LOL
10/13/10
 
lcgolfer64 says:
@BigDoctorJ
+1
Good ending post on the last thread, btw! I added to some of that mess, but hey I think he dug his own hole on that one with quite a few folks.
10/13/10
 
paperclip says:
Choose me!
10/13/10
 
jev says:
Play like whatever way you want, inflate your handicap if you must, just don't sandbag. True. But.. problems often arise when people that usually do not follow the rules as good as possible start playing in tournaments. They "bend the rules a bit" during the tournament, discussion, things start heating up and wham, gone is your own score too. If the offender is your marker and quits because of it, it's the player's loss too!
10/13/10
 
Puttaren says:
I thinking of getting three new Eidolon wedges starting from PW. I have the Mizuno mp-60 with a 47 degree PW. What setup would you recommend for me? The new conforming wedges from Eidolon how much do they differ from your old spin wedges? I am low handicapper and hit the ball pretty hard. Thanks
10/13/10
 
AH50 says:
AH50 says:
Use these for:
(1) 2010 & onwards: new grooves if you play in enforced PGA Tour & 3 USGA majors.
(2) Till 2014: Tour players have a choice of either.
(3) Till 2024: Use the current Eidolon or others or
(4) If you like to follow USGA, please do so now.
Your choice. I choose (3). Hmmm, wonder what's Eidolon take(s) on the above & esp. (3) for fun golfers.
10/13/10
 
Banker85 says:
whatever works for ya, thats what i say.
10/13/10
 
wedgeguy says:
Puttaren,
Can you please write to me at EIDOLON -- terry@eidolongolf.com -- and we'll discuss your set make-up and specs? I'd rather not do that here. Thanks.
10/13/10
 
cjgiant says:
When you play pickup basketball at the park, you might play 3-on-3 half court. You might play softball where you start with a 1-and-1 count. These are not by the rules of what most would consider "the sport", but they don't make those games less enjoyable, necessarily.

And so it is (or should be) with golf. I agree with WG in that most rule breaking hurts a player in a real competition. However, in a competition, playing with a habitual rule-breaker (purposefully or not) can easily lead to an awkward and likely unenjoyable round of golf. And yes, the sandbaggers are much worse competitively speaking.

So I have to agree, you should play the way you want to play, but you should strive to play "correctly" (as most of us here probably do). And you should be honest about it either way. I love it when playing partners wonder why they shot only 3 strokes worse than me when I "seemed" to be playing much better than them. That annoys me more than the 2 mulligans they took and 3 penalty strokes they didn't.
10/13/10
 
cjgiant says:
@birdieXris - I read the article... and surprisingly, I only really agree with one of them (#2). I could live with or without change #1, and change #5 seems too specific to pro golfers.

As for replacing OB (#3), I think you'd still need a new category, because the option of playing out of OB (like you could a hazard) should not be given (sometimes you are in someone's yard).
10/13/10
 
Mookie says:
What Link?
10/13/10
 
onedollarwed says:
If you ain't cheating you ain't trying... Of course this seems exactly the opposite in golf. Even if people don't figure penalty stroke correctly, they should at least be able to count the number of time they hit the ball, or "a" ball. Do you what you like, but don't come up to me and say you shot "xx." I think those of us who shoot close to par know exactly the blood, sweat and tears it took to get there. Or is that tools, swats and swears.

Wedge guy eluded to a very strong factor which nobody yet has mentioned - why are people qutting?
In my profession (educating the worst of the worst) it is our science. One basic way to judge teaching or learning is to weigh whether the rewards are "intrinsic" or "extrinsic." An intrinsic reward when eating is because it tastes good or makes you feel good - the reward is intrinsic or "in it."
10/13/10
 
onedollarwed says:
An extrinsic reward is a token, a trophy, money, a score, celebration, or not "in it." The difference is very important. One way to tell is... if you take away the reward, would you still do it? If they didn't pay you at work, would you still go? If you didn't get dessert, would you still eat your main course? Maybe you would be laid off from work, but still able to volunteer for a portion of it. Anyway, it's pretty easy to make a list of golf's intrinsic rewards: hitting it flush and watching the ball fly, shaping a shot just right, the sensory experience of the course.

The reason why this is so important is that people will readily work at tasks that are instrinsically rewarding. People will work at tasks that are extrinsically rewarding too, but not as readily, and they will eventually learn not to like it (or it will go into the category of "if they stopped paying me I wouldn't go.")
10/13/10
 
onedollarwed says:
There are well known studies about extinguishing kids' interest in art/ music/ sports/ reading/ writing/ math, etc. by heaping on extrinsic rewards. This is why there is a movement by many to move away from competition in kids' activities. For some reason this was interpreted by a generation of authorities as giving everyone a trophy. It was 180 degrees wrong. It should have been no throphies. The key is to find the line in activities - like soccer/ golf etc. where the rules and the goals are intrinsically stimulating. One of the magic qualities of golf is that the score is related to how well you play. Not every hole of course. I remember a birdie I got on a par 3... I shanked the tee shot 90 degrees to the right went over with the same club and in a fit of anger whacked it back toward the green right into the sunset where I couldn't see the surface.
10/13/10
 
onedollarwed says:
Well as it turned out, it went in. But intrinsically speaking, the reward wasn't there - just luck. And I think you can be lucky during 9 hole segments. But a full 18 rarely lies. Now in competition these things have huge impacts because it's all over on the extrinsic side.

Golf also offers the magic of competing against youself, or the course itself - so once again, in that way the competition is very intrinsic. Imagine writing peotry not because a teacher required it, but because you were trying to write a better one than you last - to your standards!!! A very different experience!
Now list everything on the extrinsic side of golf: freinds, drinks, nice weather, the illusion of class, the swearing, the farting, the cigars, the country club, the cool clothing, the shopping, the magazines, the escape from other reponsibilities, the travel, etc. etc.
10/13/10
 
onedollarwed says:
So hey, you can do all of that and not be golfing!!!

In summary (and I agree with Terry about lack of improvement as why people quit. One year I was teaching in a prison, in severe special ed, and golf, and the golfers were the least able to improve), focus on the basic intrinsic asapects of golf and it is fun. I love playing many intruments - but like less the ones I was forced to have lesson on.
The basic intrinsic rewards of golf:
1. hitting the ball well - regarless of where it goes
2. controlling the ball
3. scoring well
The reason #3 works is because you have to have the first two to do it, and the course is set up to be a challenge.
If you cheat, you're missing out big time. Non-conforming clubs may help you achieve the first two to a small degree, but cheating won't. Go ahead and cheat, and then quit.
10/13/10
 
onedollarwed says:
If you cheat in a tournament well, I don't know whether to hope you get away with it or get caught. If you're putting food in your kids mouth, well then good luck. Crime is only a factor of power and lack of oversight (opportunity) - just ask a head of state or a celeb.
10/13/10
 
Neo says:
Choose Me!

For myself, I find that I followed the rules more closely the better I played. When my scores were in the 100's, anything goes--mulligans, free drops, etc.. When I started breaking into the 90's, some of those things had to go. Then I started shooting in the 80's and there were no more mulligans, free drops, or anything like that. Recently, I've shot a few rounds in the 70's. For them to "count" I know I needed to follow all of the rules of golf. It feels good to accomplish something like that, and know it's legit, but at the same time I think a 20 or 25 handicap plays the game very differently than a 5 or 10 handicap.

So what I'm saying is that at each level (100's, 90's, 80's, etc..) it becomes more and more important to follow all of the rules, and possible to still enjoy the game while doing so.
10/14/10
 
Banker85 says:
well said Neo. I agree, the better i play the more i follow the rules. I would feel dirty if i shot a 78 and took even one mulligan. every stroke counts and i play the rules to the best of my knowledge. i really could care less what others do. So about those Am tours people cheat in those? how f'ing bogus! they cant regulate the cheaters?
10/14/10
 
tennesseeboy says:
I played basketball in high school and in one game I dunked the ball 20 times. I'm not kidding. Pretty impressive stat isn't it. You're probably thinking I was a great basketball player. We use to play at elementary school that had an 8 foot high goal and in one 2 on 2 game, I had 20 dunks. It wasn't real basketball. It was still fun and there's nothing wrong with having fun. If I leave out the details and let believe that it was a real high school basketball game, that is a lie. If I start believing that I really was that good in basketball, that's even worst. If you enjoy playing by your own rules on the golf course, there is nothing wrong with that. If you tell people you shot 79 when you couldn't break 100 playing by the rules, that is a lie. If really think your 79 is a good as a real 79, that's even worst.
10/14/10
 
legitimatebeef says:
I maintain that if too many people are on the course playing by their own rules, it will eventually affect us all, and not in a good way. I've only been in golf for five years but it's not hard to see that the tradition part of the game is going down the toilet. These days my local course reminds me of a bowling alley or putt-putt course, hardly anyone taking the game seriously. And the irony is that the hacks are not having that much fun out there. They're just going through the motions, usually using alcohol as an excuse/consolation for their crappiness. Golf is a lot more fun when you have a clue about what your doing and your score actually means something to you.
10/14/10
 
birdieXris says:
@Banker- The AmTour says they have regulations in place to find cheaters, but there's no way they do. They can't police everyone with the system they have. Step 1: Verify the handicap with the home course . After that, there's really nothing they do. You're set up with an online system to enter all your scores and keep yours up to date, but people don't do it. So if i would have been like everyone else last year and started the season with my handicap but not entered any scores, i would have been playing well above my marked range. They don't adjust scores or anything unless you consistently shoot great rounds either, so there's no good there. At least that's how it is in my chapter. I've got local tourneys only for next year.
10/14/10
 
cpercy says:
As long as you are not in a tournament, recording your score for a handicap, or have money on a round you can keep score however you like. Personally I play by the rules to the best of my knowledge and count all my strokes, but I sometimes play with guys that don't count there mulligans and take gimmies and honestly I just don't care, because I play against myself and the course. This allows me to enjoy my round based on what I do and not worry about my playing partners score, they can delude themselves to their hearts content. This said I don't gamble on my game either.
10/14/10
 
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