Polara Golf, a company that makes balls that go too far and wedges that are (supposedly) shank-proof, recently conducted an online survey, which found that most golfers don’t care about the Rules of Golf and therefore have no problem purchasing and playing with illegal equipment, such as the equipment that Polara Golf sells. That didn’t surprise me. What did surprise me was that, according to the survey, more than a quarter of golfers claim “to have never broken the rules during play.”
Never broken the rules? Never taken a mulligan? Never brushed a detached leaf, a grain of sand, or a loose twig while taking a back swing in a hazard? Never played by “winter rules”? Never lifted a ball on a putting green without marking it first? Never moved a marker for another player and then forgot to move it back? Never penalized himself incorrectly or unnecessarily? Never made a suggestion to another player which could influence that player’s play (“Keep your head down, you idiot”)? Never pointed out a rules infraction by another player, then agreed to ignore it? Never played out of turn in stroke play (for which there’s no penalty or correction, although it’s still a violation of the rules)? More than a quarter of golfers???
Golf Digest conducted an experiment a few years ago in which a rules official, without saying what he was doing, observed a round of golf by four ordinary guys and kept track of their rules violations. There were so many that he almost couldn’t write fast enough to record them all.
The illustration below is from an old book about the rules. Anyone who can guess which rule it’s illustrating will win a disappointing prize. Meanwhile, anyone who feels like a rules expert should try one of the quizzes on the website of the U.S. Golf Association.