The Rules of Golf
I have always believed there are far too many rules in golf. For me, if you cannot write them all on the back of a matchbox then something is wrong.
Golf is the only game in which a precise knowledge of the rules can earn one a reputation for bad sportsmanship.
Local Rules in Golf - a set of regulations that are ignored by players on a specific course rather than by golfers as a whole.
There is no surer or more painful way to learn a rule than to be penalized once for breaking it.
The first chapter in the Rules of Golf is etiquette. Apparently everyone starts reading at chapter two.
Golf was invented by some Scotsman who hit a ball, with a stick, into a hole in the ground. The game today is exactly the same, except that it now takes some ninety-odd pages of small type to ensure that the ball is hit, with the stick, into the hole in the ground without cheating.
The rules are based on three fundamental principles: That the golfer must play the ball as it lies, play the course as he finds it, and finally, where neither of the first two principles can apply, settle all questions by fair play.
There is even - as with no other game - a fascinating detective literature, a wry commentary on the human comedy, implicit in the book of rules.
The only times you touch the ball with your hand are when you tee it up and when you pick it out of the cup. The hell with television towers and cables and burrowing animals and the thousand and one things that are referred to as 'not part of the golf course'. If you hit the ball off the fairway, you play it from there.
The entire handbook can be reduced to three rules. One: you do not touch your ball from the time you tee it up to the moment you pick it out of the hole. Two: don't bend over when you are in the rough. Three: when you are in the woods, keep clapping your hands.
In a generation or two, or maybe sooner, young golfers of true sporting instinct will wonder why all this handling of the ball is necessary. It will seem to them that the game is not as good as it might be.
Golf requires only a few simple Rules and Regulations to guide the players in the true nature of its sporting appeal. The spirit of the game is its own referee.
You might as well praise a man for not robbing a bank as to praise him for playing by the rules.
The golfer is an honest man.
There are more 'Don'ts' in golf than there are in any other avocation in life.
If you call on God to improve the results of a shot while it is still in motion, you are using `an outside agency' and subject to appropriate penalties under the rules of golf.
I'll take the two stroke penalty, but I'll be damned if I'll play it where it lays!
Rule One: Whenever a spectator seeks out a really good vantage point and settles down on shooting stick or canvas chair, the tallest and fattest golf watcher on the course will take up station directly in front.
I have come to think that a person grows in his regard for the rules as he improves his game. The best players come to love golf so much they hate to see it violated in any way.
I don't know the traffic regulations of every city I get to either, but I manage to drive through without being arrested.
Golfers should not fail to realize that it is a game of great traditions, of high ideals of sportsmanship, one in which a strict adherence to the rules is essential.
The rules are simple and easily understood by anyone who has once seen the game, but to the totally uninitiated they appear to be hopelessly unintelligible.
In golf, a player can step and mar the line of his adversary's putt. A player can also hit his adversary or his caddie intentionally with his ball and claim the hole - but it isn't usually done.
Running through the Rules are underlying principles, that, like the steel rods which lie below the surface of reinforced concrete, serve to bind together the brittle material and to give it strength.
One of these days I'm going to write a book on drops. That ought to sell. The shot's become more popular than putting.
Forty-one rules aren't so many - St. Benedict had 73 to keep the brethren on the straight and narrow.
If he takes the option of dropping behind the point where the ball rests, keeping in line with the pin, his nearest drop is Honolulu.
I wrote to Mr. McEnroe, Senior. I said: "Here is the sentence once written by the immortal Bobby Jones. I thought you might like to have it done in needlepoint and mounted in a suitable frame to hang over Little John's bed. It says, The rewards of golf - and of life, too, I expect - are worth very little if you don't play the game by the etiquette as well as by the rules." I never heard from Mr. McEnroe, Senior. I can only conclude that the letter went astray.
So the British, of all ages, still walk the course. On trips to Florida or the American desert, they still marvel, or shudder, at the fleets of electric carts going off in the morning like the first assault wave at the Battle of El Alamein. It is unlikely, for some time, that a Briton will come across in his native land such a scorecard as Henry Longhurst rescued from a California club and cherished till the day he died. The last on its list of local rules printed the firm warning "A Player on Foot Has No Standing on the Course."
We've got to abide by the rules. We have to protect it. The game of golf at a professional level is so clean. We are our own judge, jury and executioner. If we don't do what we think is right, the game might get away from us.
I am sure there is no body of professional games players who so cheerfully know so little of the rules of their game as do professional golfers.
If a ball comes to rest in dangerous proximity to a hippopotamus or crocodile, another ball may be dropped at a safe distance, no nearer the hole, without penalty.
Do I have to know rules and all that crap? Then forget it.
There are two basic rules which should never be broken. Be subtle. And don't, for God's sake, try to do business with anyone who's having a bad game.