There are 34 rules to the official game of golf, within these 34 rules there are over 100 sections, and 2000 explanatory decisions and subsections. Golf is governed by some of the most bizarre rules of any sport. The most recent example is professional golfer Dustin Johnson being penalized two strokes at the PGA Championship for grounding his club in a hazard. Many critics blame Dustin, others blame his caddie, but here at Proclubs we unanimously feel it was the result of the needlessly complicated Rules of Golf.
There are a large number of rules that professional golfers miss. This gives what might be one of the simplest sports, the most complicated set of rules. So, without further ado, here are the top 5 obscure golf rules that people aren’t familiar with but should know.
1. Divots and Holes
Imagine playing in the group behind Tiger Woods. Then imagine that Tiger hits a huge drive into the middle of the fairway, and then hits a 5-iron landing his ball on the green. That 5-iron shot creates a 2 inch deep divot. If you hit an identical drive to Tiger, as highly unlikely as that may be, and land in the exact same spot, you’ll be denied the same playing conditions he had. If a cart or mower created the deep divot-like hole, you get relief, meaning you can move your ball out of the hole, but if the hole was made by a golfer, then you are screwed.
If your ball falls into a hole on the course made by a burrowing animal, like rabbits or groundhogs, you are subject to relief and your ball can be re-positioned. However, if a ball finds its way into holes considered abnormal by USGA, abnormal being holes made by non-burrowing animals, like a dog, it is not subject to relief. The Solution: Golfers should get relief from all unusual conditions and those conditions should include divots and all animal made holes.
2. Hitting another player
There is no rule penalizing a player for hitting another golfer. And, should you happen to hit an out of bounds opponent, Rule 19-3/1 allows you to replay the shot if the ball rolls out of bounds. Of course, unwritten and proper golf etiquette dictates that you should use the term ‘fore’ to warn your possible victims. Don’t forget to apologize to the stricken opponent.
3. Who’s Ball Is It?
You and another golfer are using the same ball brand, and it just so happens that you both hit said balls into the same bunker. When looking at each other’s position, you find that neither of you can differentiate on who’s ball is whose. Neither one of you put an identifying mark on the ball. What to do? Well, rule 12-2 says that both balls are viewed as lost and both players are penalized a stroke and need to go back to play their previous shots. The Solution: Mark your balls and compare them before teeing off.
4. Don’t get disqualified
If you commit a penalty that becomes apparent after your scorecard is signed you’ll be disqualified. Even if your penalty is not malicious or unintentional there is no “the two-stroke penalty” mercy. Instead, you’re disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard.The Solution: Just give the golfer his penalty, but don’t DQ them under another rule.
5. Play the ball as it lies
You just hit a great ball landing at the perfect spot on the green. As you make your way towards the ball, the wind picks up and blows several hypothetical pine cones onto the green. One of the cones just happens to land right behind your ball. As unfortunate as it may be, Rule 13-4/18.5 states “…that because this new object was placed by natural phenomenon and not as a malicious act by an ‘outside agent’, you must play the ball as it lies”. The Solution: Let the golfer move the pine cone.
Although these rules are collectively a bit obscure, there are many of golf’s standard rules that golfers aren’t aware of. But there are many more rules that fall into the quirky category, and those are widely unknown. Hopefully you found these rules helpful, and if not, hopefully you got a laugh out of it. Happy Golfing!