Whose Honour? Who cares!

March 9, 2017 3:30 pm

World of Golf London Master Professional, Jon Woodroffe, ruminates on the proposed rule changes to our great game.

golf rulesLet me say straightway, how delighted I am, that the R&A and the USGA have seen fit to look at the rules of this great game. Streamlining and simplification is on the cards at last. I am sure there are many more golf rules that need to be looked at, but this is, at least, a start. Hurrah.

As a coach who specialises in getting new people interested in golf, initially in the safe surroundings of the range, with free beginner’s lessons, before moving onto the golf course, I have found the need to ignore many of golf’s more pernickety rules, simply to avoid unnecessary customer demotivation. Telling a beginner, who unwittingly ends up in a bunker, that they cannot touch the sand while addressing the ball, is crazy. These student are struggling to master the art of holding the club properly, let alone worrying about touching the floor. Penalising them for disturbing the sand would add strokes to their score at a faster rate than a West Indian opening batsmen in an O.D.I.

Striking the flag whilst putting on the green and then being politely informed that an extra 2 shot penalty must be added to your score, is another guaranteed mood hoover. Should you decide to enforce this beginner unfriendly rule, expect to be met with a slightly quivering bottom lip and a look that says “isn’t that what I was supposed to do though? Get the ball towards that flag? It is has taken me enough time and shots to achieve it and now you’re telling me I have done it wrong again……”

And don’t get me started on the penalty for a ball rebounding in a bunker or off a tree and striking you or your equipment (cute expression). Is the pain in your leg or other piece of anatomy that has been struck, not enough of a penalty?

As for 3 minutes to find the ball….In my world, a passing glance is sufficient. If the ball cannot be spotted promptly then it’s time for a replacement. Let the player continue, add a shot to their score as punishment, but save plenty of time. Surely, we all know, in this modern world, that adding unnecessary minutes to the length of the game is not going to help us?

Let’s get ‘Ready’

I have been the world’s number one fan of “Ready Golf” since I first heard of it. Why wait for a guy to faff about on the tee when someone else is ready to drive? Wouldn’t it make sense to let the shorter hitter go first, as soon as they can, instead of everyone waiting for the fairway to clear, for the player who has just one the last hole, to assume ‘their honour’? Isn’t this when common sense, rather than silly rules should kick in?

I appreciate there is a delicate balance between retaining the integrity of the game that we all cherish, whilst making it seem less stuffy and rules laden. These new changes are a great start. But there’s room for more.

I would love to hear your thoughts on other changes you would bring in. Send your thoughts to me at reception@worldofgolf.co.uk. I promise to publish some of them.

How about we start with flagellation of people that shout “Get in the Hole” at golf tournaments?

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