GOLF’S MOST DEBATABLE RULES

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Author: Michael Farrell


The game of golf is mired with rules, so many that even professionals aren’t aware of all of them. Imagine that, a sport where professional athletes don’t know all the rules. Seems odd.

But it’s hard to fault them, seeing the book of rules has nearly 200 pages of about 34 rules with about 100 sections and subsections to them. That is not including the over 2000 decisions included for convenience.

Simply put, it is impossible to get all of the rules. But how about rules that don’t actually refer to the game itself? Like what you wear and how you wear it?

Some rules are just about common courtesy and respect. Here are some of golf’s most debatable rules:

No hats on backward.

There was a time when the only people who wore their hats backwards were baseball catchers. Then again, there was also a time when golfers were wearing neckties and plus-fours. So unless you’re ready to start dressing like Francis Ouimet, perhaps you should accept that style evolves. Personally, some of the golf attire that people wear these days is more ridiculous and annoying than a backwards hat.

No women before 10 a.m. on weekends.

If you don’t want to hear our thoughts on gender equality, then at least consider the more pragmatic perspective: the best way to get your wife off your back about playing too much golf is to get her hooked on the game as well. Last we checked, telling her when she can’t play isn’t the way to do it. But just like everyone else, as long as they are keeping up with the pace of play and are following proper etiquette, they are welcome.

No cell phones on the course, even for texting.

The whole point of a round of golf is to escape real world pressures for a few hours. Cell phones can cause slow play and they can be distracting. The other side of it is the technology age that we are in. Many golfers use a GPS app on their phone which for some, actually speeds up their pace. I guess what it comes down to is if a course makes the rule, “No cell phones. No exceptions.”, then they need to hold strong with their rule and make sure no cell phones make it out on the course

No collarless shirts.

How about banning collared shirts purchased before 1982? While we don’t have any issues with the mocks that are designed for golf, we do believe there should be a specific rule, “Collared shirts or mocks only.” If you don’t make it black and white, it will get stretched out and before you know it you will see sleeveless “suns out guns out” t-shirts.

No denim.

Fair enough, jeans just don’t look right on the golf course. And they certainly don’t feel right, either. So if you want to try to make a full turn while carrying a ball, tees, divot tool and scorecard in your jeans pockets, more power to you.

Guests can’t purchase in the pro shop; must go on members’ account.

What better way to jump start a sagging golf economy than by limiting where and how people spend their money? In my opinion, this is a dumb rule. I understand that some pro shops don’t even carry cash nor have the setup to handle normal sales, but they are missing out on some serious cash. Pro shops have a difficult enough time moving their inventory as it is, so why make it harder on themselves by passing up a sale, just because it is a guest?

No cargo shorts or pants.

We were going to say, if it was good enough for the President, it’s good enough for us. I am not a huge fan of how cargo’s look on the course, but I don’t think they should be banned. There are some players who are just considered as a “recreational golfer.” There are much worse things to worry about out there, such as fixing ball marks or replacing divots. That is a whole other issue that will most certainly be covered in the near future!

Hats off indoors.

Mostly, it’s just a respectful thing to do. However, there should be exceptions for religious reasons and receding hairlines. But how about getting hammered and swearing loudly in the clubhouse? Isn’t that disrespectful? “You can swear and yell and call each other names, but you better not have a hat on while you do it!”

Jackets and ties in the dining room.

We’ll be more than happy to wear jacket and tie in the dining room if we’re eating at the Champions Dinner! Anywhere else, perhaps we can treat golf like it isn’t a corporate board meeting. The course and clubhouse should be “nice enough” to justify it.

No pull carts.

Here’s what we think: if it’s good enough for St. Andrews, maybe it’s good enough for us. Seriously, as retirees get more health conscious, is it good for the sport to tell them they can’t walk? Are we doing that well? So you can’t have a pull cart, but you can have a golf cart? It’s pretty sad how much damage a golf cart can do to a course. Those wheels dig deep into the course and distract other players!

Dial up, dial out.

The USGA announced that it will no longer take viewer input on penalties, which is actually HORRIBLE news for fans of golf controversy. From Lexi and Tiger on down, some of the most-discussed golf moments of recent years have come from the hawk-eyed homebodies eager to call their local USGA office to report an infraction.