From The Fringe

The New Rules Of Golf …Or The New 'Suggestions' Of Golf?

By Ian Fabian (iG Contributor)

Along with many of you my initial reaction to the anticipated changes to the rules of golf was to applaud the governing bodies for moving forward. As time has gone on and I’ve had some time to digest what’s taken place some questions have arisen.

Why has it taken the governing bodies so long to make what, for the most part, seem to be logical and common-sense changes to the current rules?

While I appreciate the move forward on their part, are the governing bodies so hamstrung by tradition that creating any precedent requires decades of study and innumerable meetings? I don’t believe that’s how to “grow the game” which seems to be the current war-cry.

Let’s examine a couple of the rule changes scheduled to take effect and one that has been glaringly left out.

You are no longer required to drop the ball from shoulder height but now may drop it from a spot that doesn’t contact the ground or the grass underneath it, i.e. suggested 1 inch above the grass.

This now in my estimation doesn’t become a rule as it gives no specifics. It doesn’t preclude you from dropping the ball from any height but merely makes a suggestion as to how a drop should be made.

Perhaps this should fall into the category of “suggestions of golf” rather than under the heading “rules of golf”.

The distance of allowed relief has been changed and now becomes a specific number of inches depending on the relief being taken. The suggestion is marking one or more of your clubs with the inch requirement. I look forward to observing my fellow amateur golfers (many of whom aren’t even sure of when they’re entitled to a drop) to note how many have marked their clubs appropriately.

Along the same lines of the difference between amateur golf and professional golf let’s turn to the reducing of the amount of time allowed looking for a lost ball. I understand the idea, as it would hopefully speed up play. As a professional you have the advantage of spotters, the gallery and in a number of cases television announcers who can greatly improve your chances of finding a shot that went awry.

Top-of-the-line golf balls these days sell for approximately $60.00 per dozen (please note that no professional pays for his or her golf balls) and, again, I look forward to watching my fellow amateurs abandon a $5.00 golf ball in the prescribed 3 minutes.

Last but not least there have been countless surveys done throughout the golf world regarding what would be the one rule you would have changed if you could. To the best of my knowledge it’s considering a sand and seeded divot to be ground under repair.

How this wasn’t addressed in the upcoming rule changes is a mystery to me. If the divot has been filled with sand and seed in order to repair it then doesn’t it by very definition become ‘ground under repair’…?

As previously stated, I applaud the governing bodies for moving forward, I simply wish that their progress was less glacial in it’s rapidity and took into account that the vast majority of golfers are amateurs and examined the effect that the changes will have on them.

About the Writer:

Ian Fabian is a self-proclaimed golf addict and makes no apologies for it. He can be found most weekends carving out his legacy on his home golf course and is easily recognized by the cloud of swing thought bubbles following him around like the cloud of dust followed Pig Pen from Charles Schultz' famous Peanuts comic strip.