I am almost tired, no I am tired, of the hammering that the rules of golf are taking from the talking heads on ESPN about what happened at the PGA this past week. Not that I disagree with all that they are saying, but they sure can beat something to death. So now I am going to beat on this topic for a brief moment. So bear with me golf nuts.
One of the comments that I have heard that I think sums it up in my mind has to do with the “spirit of the rules”. I can’t remember who said it, but the commment was something along the lines of “golf is the only sport where there is no spirit of the rules, only the law.” And my first reaction to that is, I don’t know if that is true, but what is wrong with that?
I mean, the rules are the rules, right? I don’t know if that statement is correct about the other sports, but it is true about golf and I like that about the game of golf. You follow the rules and if you don’t, you are penalized. No maybe or maybe not, let’s talk about it and discuss our feelings about it.
The problem, in my opinion, is that some of the rules probably need to be changed. Now as unfortunate as it was, and as unfair as it seemed, Dustin Johnson screwed up. No two ways about it. He didn’t check with anyone before he hit the shot and he admitted that he didn’t read the notice that was given out to all the golfers.
In this case, I think that what is stupid is to have approximately 1,200 bunkers of which many your own groundskeeper doesn’t know if that are actually bunkers or not! But that is an entirely different argument.
Back to the rules of golf. What I think that this past weekend highlighted, to me anyway, is that maybe it is time for the USGA and the R&A to review the rules. Let me give you a couple of examples. Go back to the 1968 Masters and Roberto De Vicenzo’s tragic loss because he signed the wrong scorecard. I just think that, as one of the ESPN guys said, if the Yankees and the Red Sox had an end of the season game to see who was going to the World Series and after the Yankees won it, an official came to the locker room and said, “Oh I’m sorry, your manager signed the wrong score book so the Red Sox are going to the World Series”, you would probably have a nuclear bomb go off.
And the rule that says that if, after addressing the ball, your ball moves, through no fault of the golfer, then you are penalized. Or even the rule that Johnson broke. I know a collegiate golfer who was penalized, during a tournament, because after he hit his shot from a lateral water hazard, the ball was still in the water further upstream and he dipped his club in the water to clean it off.
I believe the integrity of the game of golf and that there should be strict enforcement. But I think that, although Johnson’s situation was unfortunate, but handled correctly, there are a number of rules that need to changed, removed, or rethought. Let’s take the little bit of insanity out of the rules of golf and shut up all those talking heads who won’t let it go.