Rules school

Could we all at least try to play by the Rules?

In my time as a club golfer I’ve learned the Rules of Golf are far too complicated for anyone to learn in full, but sadly too many golfers don’t even try to learn the basics.

I know many golfers, at every level, who understand everything they need to know to play the sport. They understand how long they have to search for a ball; what to do when playing a provisional; what they can and can’t move before playing a stroke; and that they can’t go wading through a bush like a bear searching for honey in order to create enough room to play a shot.

On the other hand, there are those who couldn’t care less about the Rules and prefer to make it up as they go along – even when playing in a club championship.

I’m not suggesting everyone should learn the rulebook page by page, but everyone should understand the fundamentals and know how to use the rulebook.

I learned the fundamentals from my playing partners as a junior – some of them very good players and some not very good. The R&A also has brilliant resources – at under the Rules tab – for golfers to learn the Rules and test themselves. If you can, download the Rules of Golf app – it’s a lot easier to navigate through than the physical book.

The app is a fantastic tool. Once you’ve done a bit of general reading, you quickly pick up the terms used throughout and the search function is brilliant when you’re on the course. It’s also a good tool to refresh your memory before doing something – such as checking what is and isn’t an immovable obstruction; what to do when you inadvertently step on your ball while searching for it; or what is and isn’t a loose impediment on the fringe before sweeping it out of the way.

Another great way to learn the Rules is to watch golf on TV. Every week you’ll see players following the full process for taking relief including marking the area to drop, and understanding the difference between the nearest point of relief and the most convenient point of relief.

For those who do not know the Rules, ignorance is not a defence. 

Educate yourselves a little bit, it’s not difficult to learn the basic and it often helps to know things such as when you get free relief, how to measure the full area you’re able to take a drop in, and all your options when your ball finds a penalty area. A lit bit of knowledge can be a powerful tool for golfers at every level and can save you shots on the course – you don’t even need to pick up a club and practise!