Let's Talk About The Rules
There is so much talk about the Rules of Golf, with the hot topic of today being the use of the anchored putting stroke. It seems kind of silly to me, actually, even though I am one of the most pure of the "purists" about our game.

Even with my own putting woes, I have not even given thought to that solution, and won't even stray off toward non-traditional approaches like left-hand-low or the claw. Maybe that traditional bent is also fused with my "hard-headed Dutchman" upbringing.

In a discussion about this the other day, the conversation ventured off into just how many golfers play "strictly" by the rules, as they are written, with no variations for convenience. I suggest it probably is a relatively small percentage, actually, and mostly limited to those members of the best private clubs. But I certainly might be wrong, so I would like for you guys to sound off on the following topics:
  1. Do you ALWAYS play the ball as you find it? The Rules of Golf are pretty unbending here, but do you play the game that way? Or do you occasionally / frequently / always bump the ball to a better lie because of the kind of course conditioning you encounter?

  2. Do you ALWAYS putt out? The basic notion of golf is to finish every hole, but how many of us really do that? Do your buddies hit the short ones back to you often/always? And how do you define a "short one"? The original notion of "the leather" was the length of the putter grip, but it seems to have evolved to the distance from the putter head to the grip. What's your take here, readers?

  3. Do you ever take a mulligan? Enough said.

  4. Do you ever hit a practice shot in the middle of a round? Maybe make another stroke at that putt you just missed? In match play, that's OK — but not in medal play. What do you do?

  5. Do you carry only 14 clubs? Most club events I've played in waive the 14-club limit, but what does your bag include?

I'm really curious about how we all play the game recreationally, so please sound off with your thoughts on this topic. And do our little "indiscretions" with the Rules of Golf really damage the game? Or make it more enjoyable?

I'm listening...
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[ comments ]
jasonfish11 says:
Short answer no.

And #4 as you describe is not a violation of the rules.

Per rule 7-2
"Between the play of 2 holes a player must not make a practice stroke, except that he may practice putting or chipping on or near:
a. the putting green of the hole last played,
b. the practice putting green, or
c. the teeing ground of the next hole to be played in the round,
provided a practice stroke is not made from a hazard and does not unduly delay play.
3/21/14
 
Torleif Sorenson says:
  1. Always. And if I don't have a play, it's an unplayable lie and a penalty. The Rules of Golf say so.

  2. Yes, because The Rules of Golf for medal play say so.

  3. No. The Rules of Golf say mulligans are illegal.

  4. Only during a practice round, where I don't instead to post a legitimate score to my GHIN account.

  5. My bag includes only 14 clubs, because The Rules of Golf say so.

"To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society."
— Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), 26th President of the United States
3/21/14
 
jasonfish11 says:
End quote.

I play by the rules about 60% of the time which I assume is way more than others.
1) Yes for the most part. I will occasionally play perfered lies when it is cart path only with out checking with the committe first.
2) Not always, but I try to. I play a lot with randoms and many times they will knock short putts back to me (5"). I will normally politely say I'd perfer to put out.
3) No
4) Yes but not in breach of the rules (see above post).
5) I just added a 14th club. I've never had more but often had less.
3/21/14
 
DougE says:
I play by the rules and expect others to do the same IN A TOURNAMENT. I play mostly by the rules in casual play, but certainly will take a gimmie if it's under 18 inches. Anything that keeps pace of play going without really affecting what you would most likely shoot is a good thing IMO during casual rounds. I never play a mulligan without adding S&D, except in a round where I am just out there working on stuff. In those rounds, all rules are out the window. They get recorded as practice rounds on oob and are not recorded on my GHIN.
3/21/14
 
jasonfish11 says:
Also asking a bunch of people on a golf forum will result in a very biased outcome for 2 reasons.

1) we are generally more serious about golf than the average weekend joe (no offense joe jones lol).
2) We may not be inclined to admit publically to our fellow OOB'ers that we dont always follow the rules.

But wouldn't be surprised if less than 5% of non-tournament golf rounds played on the weekend are true scores.
3/21/14
 
Mr_X says:
1. I have not always played a ball as it lies. Sometimes it is moved within the rules - sometimes it is moved illegally without taking the penalty stroke.

2. I have not played every putt to the bottom of the cup. Sometimes I pick it up. Sometimes the people I am playing with will pick it up.

3. I have taken many mulligans in my life. A golfer who says they have never taken a mulligan is most certainly lying about it. They may have not have played a mulligan this season, or within the last few seasons, but everyone who golfs has taken a mulligan at one time or another.

4. I have taken practice shots during a round. It is a very rare occurrence and always within the rules.

5. I carry 14 clubs. I have a few times carried 15 clubs in my bag. When I realized there where 15 clubs, I removed one from my bag.
3/21/14
 
Mr_X says:
Terry you think this is about "indiscretions" or breaking the rules. I ask you what type of round are you playing. Is this a practice round? Is it a round where score will be submitted for handicapping? Is it a competition event at a course or just just 4 buddies playing a 18 holes who are betting a round of drinks? Just because you are playing 18 holes of golf does not mean the rules need to be followed to the tee.

Golf is just like life. Most people know the rules. And most people bend those rules when they feel it appropriate. And just like golf, I think society would work more smoothly if everyone followed all the rules all of the time, but I know that fantasy is never going to happen.
3/21/14
 
bkuehn1952 says:
I think it goes without saying that tournament rounds or situations where one is competing against others, 99% of us follow the Rules. It gets a bit looser once we enter casual (but non-practice) play.

Many of us play public access courses that are rarely completely marked (OB, GUR, Water hazards, etc...) or have a committee to assess when certain Local Rules should be posted. The USGA has suggested that when a player or group confronts these types of issues, that the player or group should consider themselves as the "committee". On that basis, I think it is perfectly reasonable for a player or group to decide that a fair sized patch of turf in the fairway should be GUR and allow relief. Similarly, this "committee" should be able to apply Local Rules such as allowing the use of distance measuring devices or free relief from plugged lies through the green, not just in closely mown areas.
3/21/14
 
legitimatebeef says:
Always play it as I find it, always putt out and don't even talk to me about mulligans. Any game is arguably meaningless and frivolous, but bending the rules of golf takes an already silly time-wasting diversion and renders it even more meaningless and puerile. It is more a pragmatic than a moral issue--I am only out there to maximize my fun, I have no pretense about that, and for me it's just more fun in the big picture to keep things on the up and up. Plus when I look over my scores and stats I know that the numbers, however pathetic they might be, actually mean something.
3/21/14
 
legitimatebeef says:
Mr X, I don't know if I have ever "taken a mulligan". How dare you.
3/21/14
 
legitimatebeef says:
bkuehn, I have acted as the committee before. My rulings tend to be draconian and callously unsympathetic.
3/21/14
 
jasonfish11 says:
Beef I'm shocked that your rulings would be that way
3/21/14
 
bkuehn1952 says:
So with my previous post in mind:

1. I always play the ball as it lies except when the turf conditions, in my opinion, would be marked GUR in a tournament situation. I always play from divot holes and play all marginal lies unless the area of turf is really bad.
2. I will pickup a ball from time to time when it lies within a foot or less of the hole. I generally don't putt my 4th or 5th putt.
3. I have taken mulligans in the past but pretty much stopped once I started tracking a handicap many years ago.
4. Yes, I do this on occasion - almost always when I am playing poorly. I do play the first shot but do not add 2 strokes. If I inflate my scores too much, I will really have the sandbagger label to deal with.
5. 14 or less, always. I walk and carry and there is no way I want to carry a 15th club. Heck, most of the time I only fill my water bottle half way to save weight.
3/21/14
 
jeffcroupier says:
Here in Seattle, in March, given the turf conditions it's definitely "lift, clean, and place on a nice tuft of grass if you can find one within a few feet". But once summer comes I play it as it lies all the time.
3/21/14
 
bkuehn1952 says:
legitimatebeef says:
bkuehn, I have acted as the committee before. My rulings tend to be draconian and callously unsympathetic.

Ha ha! You are the one player I know will insist on hitting from a frozen tractor rut. You are truly old school. (that is a compliment, btw).
3/21/14
 
sbickford says:
First time posting in one of these forums, but I had to weigh in on these out of guilt! I rarely play in tourneys, by the way, although we often play for quarters!

1. Yes I'll roll the ball if I'm on rocks or hard dirt that shouldn't be there, as long as my playing group okays it. But I do hit out of divots and off roots. (It'd be nice to play like on a tour caliber course like the pros, where every fairway and cut of rough is manicured to perfection... but my usual course has bare, compacted dirt spots in the fairway, gravel in the rough to control erosion, etc. Not gonna ruin my clubs for that!)
3. Breakfast balls anyone? Hustling from work to get to the first tee with no warmup, no range... yeah I'm taking 2 off the first tee! But no mulligans thereafter!

Aaaaah it feels so liberating to get that guilt off my chest :) Don't judge me!
3/21/14
 
jeffcroupier says:
And I'll note, I was actually playing only 13 clubs for a while until ordering three fine SCOR4161 wedges, at the exact lofts and lies I needed, now I play 14 clubs
3/21/14
 
jasonfish11 says:
Lol my 14th club just added 3weeks ago was a scor wedge
3/21/14
 
bkuehn1952 says:
@sbickford - let he who is without sin cast the first golf ball. You won't find me tossing the first ball at you. Please share your thoughts and opinions with us in the future.
3/21/14
 
jasonfish11 says:
Yes sbickford. Golf is about enjoyment. If you are beef and enjoy playing strictly by the rules or chris Berman and lie about having an 18 handicap to play the pebble beach pro am. It doesn't matter unless you are preventing someone else from their enjoyment of the game
3/21/14
 
sbickford says:
Thanks for the vote of confidence, much appreciated!
(And since you asked @bkuehn52 FROM ANN ARBOR, I do have one more thought/opinion for you... GO IRISH! haha
Same for you @jasonfish11! I played baseball at ND and had run-ins with both of your teams :) But that was another sport in a different life!)
3/21/14
 
oobscott2 says:
1.Definetely no. I use common sense here. 90% of the year my course is path only and soaking wet. So I move in in these cases. Basically, if its path only, I move the ball. Since November 1st to date, we have had 2 days that are not cart path only for play (I live near the coast in NC, it rains a lot. At least not a lot of snow)

2.If i am by myself i generally will putt out everything. But with others I am ok with it if they give me a short putt. However, if I don't putt everything out, I will not post that score for my handicap.

3.nah i dont take mulligans


4. I will hit both full length shots in the middle of the hole and chip/putt after completion of the hole. But I will only do this if I am playing alone


5. I just carry 14. I never ride and my bag is heavy enough. I would use my push cart more, but my club applies the cart path only rule equally to push carts and to riding carts. It's a long damn walk to walk the cart path and then walk to your ball and back on every shot.
3/21/14
 
GBogey says:
Minor Rules Deviations (my opinion) - 1) won't risk injury or club damage to play the ball as it lies; 2)I've almost 100% eliminated mulligans (had a lot when I started playing), but still have one every so often when the mind goes blank at the wrong time.
3/21/14
 
GBogey says:
More serious violations - I play almost all out of bounds and lost balls as stroke and distance in order to keep things moving. If I know that I hit a ball into a certain area and just can't find it, I don't necessarily charge myself a penalty. If I had 3 spotters on every hole like the tour, I would never lose a ball.
3/21/14
 
DougE says:
Hey Beef: GBogey's point above is well taken. Just curious. What happens if you hit a perfectly good ball off the tee, good enough so you would have no reason to hit a provisional, yet when you get to where you know it must be you can't find it. Do you go back to the tee and re-hit? I would think at a Brooklyn muni, someone in the group behind would have shot you by now. ;-)
3/21/14
 
onedollarwed says:
There are of course many rules that I am not aware of...
A. I do putt with the flagstick in when playing alone sometimes to speed things up.
B. The only time I move a ball is for casual water.
C. My ball was blown off the green once by wind and ended up 50 yards away; I put it back.
D. I have waited more than 30 seconds for a ball resting on the lip to drop; and have jumped up and down to shake the ground; and have funneled wind at it with my feet and putter.
E. I have played balls out of the tee, and moving water (those may be okay).
F. I prefer to "play the ball down" as it is the most satisfying way to play (even when feasible in match). I don't like people kick or slapping the ball back to me. I need practice on shorties, and if they're real short, even easier!
3/21/14
 
onedollarwed says:
G. The big elephant in the room in my pajamas is this however (and how he got in the room I'm not quite sure): Lost ball. When you lose a ball and don't know until you're up there (either somebody hawked it, it's under a leaf, or somewhere you don't expect, or there's a stream, gully, gopher hole you couldn't see), you've got to go back and replay. As we've gone over many times, it's not really appropriate in public play. Also, how often should you take provisionals? If you think it MIGHT be lost? Then sometimes you find the ball after you hit the drop, etc. etc.
h. I'll put an extra club in if I'm trying new clubs, pretty rare.
i. didn't somebody quote a rule that said you can't change rules?
j. I like experimentation - it's made international rugby a much better game (lifting, playing the ball with hands back in ruck, recycling momentarily on the ground). And there is a body which tries out provisional rules.
3/21/14
 
onedollarwed says:
k. There should be more or less standardized recreational rules - like tee it forward, drop for lost, pick up after 10 shots, fix one plus one, play it as it lies, put it out, etc. which supports solid fundamentals, fun, simplicity, and improvement... and then of course more picky rules for tournaments and indexing.
l. I've never been fond of mulligans, re-putts, gimmees, takies, etc. I think that you'll never get better at stroke play until you take all your medicine and follow the rules, play everything down, and know your real score. If you start with your real score, you'll improve much more and play in an appropriate flight. The rest is all an illusion, and a hollow one at that.
3/21/14
 
legitimatebeef says:
DougE: Scenario you described is extremely rare, but sure, I'll go back, what do I care anymore. Sure there are some people out there that aren't to be crossed, but they're a small minority. Every one else, who cares. I go out of my way to be a good etiquette guy like all the time. If I happen to need an extra minute or two to re-hit a ball every now and then why can't I take it.
3/21/14
 
golfnpoker says:
1. I play the ball down always unless the rules are lift clean and place. I play in a nine hole industrial league and every year we vote on what tees to play and if we will bump the ball, ( score card length). The worst golfers almost always vote to bump the ball. They don't understand that ball in hand helps the better players, a 25 handicapper is going to struggle with a perfect lie.
2. If its a stoke play event, obviously putt out everything. If its a skins game or something I'll scrape a two-footer if I'm out of the hole. If I am having a really poor day and its towards the end of the round I'll pick up from about anywhere and take the most likely score.
3. never take mulligans.
4. I'll putt after I hole out occasionally, It's not against the rules unless you are keeping the group behind you waiting.
5. I carry a weighted club to warm up on the first tee during casual rounds giving me 15. If its a round in our men's club I hit balls and leave it in the car.
3/21/14
 
golfnpoker says:
As a handicap chairman I have no problem with people scraping putts in casual rounds they post. I also hate the USGA handicap system. To much room for sandbagging. IMHO only tournament scores, played under the rules of golf should be used for handicapping purposes, like they do in the rest of the world.
3/21/14
 
joe jones says:
Jasonfish. I think lots of players use you 60% rule. The only problem is the 40% they don't use changes dependent on the occasion so your 60% may not be the same as theirs.Thank you for absolving me of not being the average Joe that you mentioned. I may not be deserving however. If I am playing alone I often leave the stick in when I putt. I also hit two balls. In fact I often play a match using two different balls. ( Noodle vs. Wilson Staff) or I play better ball or worse ball or alternate shots.No harm no foul and it,s a lot of fun at times. The scores I post are honest and as close to the rules as I can or wish to get.Only one rule gets my goat and I refuse to apply it and that is out of bounds. I will not take a stroke and distance penalty. It's totally unfair in my mind.
3/21/14
 
golfingbumunderpar64 says:
This is a very interesting question. I play two different types of golf. Casual and tournaments. During casual I'm out there with my buddies having fun. We roll the ball in the fairways ( not the rough ), take relief off rocks ( not pebbles ) and roots since we don't want to damage us or the overly expensive clubs, but we all have to agree upon the lie. We give gimmies and we take two off the first tee. It is a game for fun and we like to play fast. In tournament play, I follow every rule. I am most of the Time in the championship flight and the courses I play are very nice and the conditions allow it. So I do both and it's easy for me to switch from either or.
3/21/14
 
hp says:
- 99.5% of the time, I play my ball as I find it, except on very muddy courses in the fairway.

- I always want to putt out (friends know not to knock my golf ball back to me unless it’s single digit inches, and we need to get a move on).

- I haven't hit a mulligan for the last 1200 rounds guaranteed. (Last mulligan was maybe 26 years ago?)

- No practice, and always 14 clubs.

- ALSO, since I always walk, I always hit a provisional if the first ball is in danger of being lost.

Following the rules and knowing my REAL score gives me a lot of fulfillment. HOWEVER, in casual non tournament rounds, pace of play courtesy to my group and the rest of the course ALWAYS trumps the rules. If strictly following the rules means being inconsiderately slow to the group or the rest of the course, then yes, of course, bend the rules!
3/23/14
 
Renreb says:
Pretty straight forward rules for the average golfer: If the ball goes OB from the tee, re-tee with a penalty. Play the ball as it lies in the rough, roll it 6 inches (no closer to the hole) while in the fairway and putt everything out. Simple, basic rules.

Most courses that we, the average golfer, play are not in fantastic shape. I believe you should be rewarded with a good lie whether on the fairway or on the green. If you do not have a good lie in one of those two situations then you should be able to obtain one.

But all rules are made to be broken, especially if by following the rules the pace of play is being affected.
3/24/14
 
Tim Horan says:
I only ever play preferred lies when the local rule is in force.
Not being a good short putter - I always hole out (nobody would ever concede TH a short putt).
Mulligans - only when out on my own practising.
Practice shots - yes when on my own or when permitted in match play.
No room in my bag for more than 14 clubs generally. I have taken two drivers out with me to test a theory but only in practice.

I know I am a saint!

I do think that if we played more match play with friends at club level rather than playing for stableford points or stroke play we could speed up play.

And in medal competitions if a ball has even a remote possibility of being lost, play a provisional to save walking back.
4/2/14
 
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