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Three Golf Rules You Might Not Know You Are Breaking

Just as most drivers violate the speed limit at some point in their driving careers, most golfers also run afoul of the rulebook without giving it much thought. In some cases it’s a simple matter of not knowing the rules, but often it’s a player with little regard for the official rules, preferring to play by their own unwritten rules. Golfers who prefer to play by the official Royal & Ancient and USGA rules are often in a quandary whether to call their playing partners on the rules or simply let them do their own thing, but some rules are so trampled that they must be pointed out. Here’s a list of the three most commonly broken golf rules and the proper implementation of them:

* Advice and Indicating Line of Play: This is probably the most commonly broken golf rule because so many players don't even realize it's a rule. Golfers are forbidden from asking for or giving advice to a fellow competitors during the round, which includes helping an opponent with a putt by marking the line of play or offering advice on how to correct a swing. The lone exception is team play, when teammates may help one another in a limited capacity, but even then it is against Rule 8-1 and 8-2 to offer or ask for assistance or physically touch the green to mark a line. This particularly applies to the guy in your group who makes a couple of pars and suddenly thinks he is Hank Haney, ruining everyone else's time by him telling them what they're doing wrong when it fact he is breaking a rule.

* Line of Flight: This term is thrown around the golf course so often that you would never know that "line of flight" isn't even in the Royal & Ancient or USGA rulebooks. Players often drop their ball along this imaginary line after hitting into a hazard, but that practice is not in keeping with Rule 26, which gives players three options: "a. Proceed under the stroke and distance provision of Rule 27-1 by playing a ball as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played (see Rule 20-5); b. Drop a ball behind the water hazard, keeping the point at which the original ball last crossed the margin of the water hazard directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped, with no limit to how far behind the water hazard the ball may be dropped; or c. As additional options available only if the ball last crossed the margin of a lateral water hazard, drop a ball outside the water hazard within two club-lengths of and not nearer the hole than (i) the point where the original ball last crossed the margin of the water hazard or (ii) a point on the opposite margin of the water hazard equidistant from the hole."

* Provisional ball rule: Many golfers believe that "provisional ball" is a synonym for the Irish word "mulligan," or at least they pretend that it does. You've played with the guy who hammers his tee shot deep into the woods, pulls out another ball and "re-tees." Although Rule 27-2 does allow for provisional balls that appear to be hit out of bounds, it states that a golfer must announce his intentions to take a provisional ball, wait until after his playing partner hit their shots, and then hit the provisional ball. If the original ball is found to be in bounds and played instead of the provisional ball, there's no penalty. If the provisional ball is used, you still have to count for the original stroke toward the score. Sorry, fellas, but there are no mulligans.

 

Posted on 12/16/14

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