I can promise you that most golfers wouldn’t go by the nickname Johnny Rulebook. Why? Because the rules of golf are extensive and if you didn’t read your school textbooks what makes anyone think you are going to sit and read line for line the official rules of golf? …the USGA would like to think you did so here’s a quick rundown of the most abused rules in golf and what to actually do to get them right so you don’t go to golf rule prison.
ONE: TEEING OFF
Let’s just say the tee box is in rough shape. Divot after divot after divot. Chunks of dirt and very little what you would consider “usable” grass. Too bad. As much as you’d like to tee it up in the perfect pristine grass just a couple inches forward of the markers, that’s against the rules! There is a little invisible line from tee box marker to tee box marker and you can only tee up behind that imaginary line. Keep in mind though that you can go two club lengths back of the markers. Just adjust your yardage and club and you’ll be fine.
Penalty: Two-strokes and you must re-play your ball from the correct area
TWO: ADDRESSING THE BALL OFF THE TEE
You step up to the ball, do your routine waggle and oops… the ball falls off the tee because you accidentally touched it. No worries! That’s actually not a penalty. If you’re doing a swing however and you knock the ball off (the act of the swing) it’s a penalty. Laugh off the whiff, take your penalty and move on before the embarrassment sets in too much.
Penalty: One-stroke and you must play your next shot as it lies even from the tee box
THREE: DEBRIS IN THE BUNKER
Your ball comes to rest in the bunker and low and behold there are leaves and other debris sitting under or near your ball. As you would on the fairway, you move the leaves. Wrong. Sorry but that’s against the rules. Believe it or not you cannot move things in a bunker such as leaves, bugs, twigs, or even dead animals if you don’t want to incur a penalty. You can however move litter (think bottles, scorecards, or trash of any kind) and tees. What is a tee doing in there in the first place? So if your ball is right behind a dead rodent, you can’t move it. Play on!
Penalty: One-stroke penalty
FOUR: GREEN REPAIRS
Preparing for the perfect putt you usually inspect the line and repair any impediments such as a ball mark, leaves, and spike marks… wait. You can’t repair spike marks. If your ball is in play (meaning you’re on the green putting) you are not allowed to repair spike marks from golf shoes. Why? Because it’s considered to be creating an advantage for yourself and fixing them does incur a penalty. This rule doesn’t necessarily make sense considering you can fix a ball mark but that’s just the rules of golf. …now here’s the tricky part. If your opposing player walks through your line and creates scuff marks you can then fix those without penalty. What gives Mr. Rules Maker? You’re basically entitled to the lie you originally had and the extra added impediments after your ball has come to lie on the green don’t count against you. In other words… fix your own scuff marks when you’re leaving the green. Karma may pay it forward on the next hole.
Penalty: Two-strokes penalty
There you have it and now you know.
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