Have you ever taken a mulligan on the first tee? Do you drop a ball near where you lost one, rather than taking a provisional ball or going back to your previous position?
Does your foursome play “winter rules” even in the middle of the summer? Do you putt out all your putts or take “gimmes” from three feet? Do you know the difference between the rules for out of bounds, lost ball, or lateral water hazard?
The USGA always talks about growing the game, and yet the strict rules might be hurting the game’s future. There is a way to make the game more fun for social amateurs and still keep the integrity of the rules for professionals and “competitive” amateurs.
Having two sets of rules has worked in baseball. High school and college baseball players use aluminum bats and the pros use wood. I am in favor of equipment and rules also being different for social amateurs and professionals in the game of golf.
Beginning golfers, especially, need to have ways to enjoy the game more. The current rules “slow down” the game for many of the people who play golf for fun. (By the way, there is no such thing as “winter rules” in the rulebook.)
Below are my suggestions on how to modify the rules to make the game more fun:
- Tee the ball up in the fairway
- Improve your lie within a grip length anywhere on the course
- Play the forward tees until you are able to shoot bogey golf
- Allow mulligans once each nine holes
- Out-of-bounds and lost balls should be played like a lateral water hazard
- Ground your club in a hazard and take practice swings
- Get free drops from trees, roots and rocks
- Move your ball if it lands in a divot or in someone’s footprint in a bunker
- Keep the flagstick in the hole while putting with no penalty if you hit it
- If you can’t find your ball in two minutes, just drop another ball in the general area and take a penalty stroke
All these modifications of the rules will speed up play and make the game a lot more enjoyable.
Do you have other ideas? Let me know your thoughts and suggestions.
Dr. Jean Harris is an LPGA Master Professional and teaches at Brown Golf Management courses. jean.golfdoctor.harris @gmail.com; www.golfdoctorjean.com