image 108x108

Golf: A Complicated Game Needing More Simple

Jason S. Deegan Comments(3) 4/6/11

How can the best golfers in the world, the guys and gals who earn millions of dollars playing the game, not know The Rules of Golf?

The answer is simple: there are truly only a handful of people in the world that completely understand The Rules of Golf. Itís unfortunate that under the 34 basic rules listed in The Rules of Golf, there are thousands of decisions and circumstances that make playing the game as confusing as trying to read a foreign language.

Botched rule scenarios made more headlines in 2010 than any season in recent memory. Some of the best players made critical errors at improbable times, losing valuable prize money and world ranking points. Not to mention, it is embarrassing to the game when the world's best players don't know the rules.

The most widely publicized error occurred when Dustin Johnson grounded his club in a bunker that had been trampled by spectators during the PGA Championship at Whistling Straights. These circumstances led to a penalty on the final hole of regulation and kept him out of a playoff. That said, there were plenty of other less scrutinized blunders: Julie Inkster using an illegal swing weight, Ryuji Imadaís illegal drops that led to 26 penalty strokes, and Ian Poulterís costly dropped ball that moved his marker on the final hole of the Dubai World Championship.

If the world's best canít get it right, how do you think the general public feels in a heated Saturday afternoon four-ball match? I firmly believe that golf needs to be less complicated. Unfortunately, the United States Golf Association and R&A, the two governing bodies that oversee the rules, continue to add rules and decisions every two years. The added rules and decisions are published in a volume twice as thick as Gone with the Wind! I say itís time we inject some common sense into the game. Here are five rules golf can easily live without.

Rule Change #1

  • Get rid of the stroke and distance penalty if a golfer pumps a shot out of bounds. This simple addendum would make the game more fun and speed up play, the two complaints of golf most frequently brought up. Most players donít know what the differences between red, white and yellow stakes are anyway. Just make every shot out-of-bounds a lateral hazard penalty to speed up play and end the confusion. No more losing a ball and having to make that long painful march back to the tee for the sake of the rules. Nearly 90 percent of golf is already played this way, so why not adopt the ways of the majority of golfers

Rule Change #2

  • The controversial grooves rule, which mandated that club manufacturers no longer make U-grooved wedges and irons beginning this year. This rule was supposed to make golf harder for tour players not the general public. Yet according to the most relevant statistics charted by ShotLink, the pros had little trouble with the change to shallower V grooves in 2010. Unfortunately, itís amateurs who are the victims in all this. Their shots spin less and are even harder to predict out of the rough. Why not bring back the old standards and give these hackers a fighting chance against par?

Rule Change #3

  • Youíve just laced a great drive down the middle Öonly to see the ball come to rest in a fairway divot. The rules state that the golfer must play the ball as it lies. Common sense, which should prevail more often when it comes to The Rules of Golf, should allow relief from the divot for a clean shot from the fairway. Youíve earned that right.

Rule Change #4

  • Golfís most archaic rule involves disqualifying a player for signing an incorrect scorecard. Itís too steep a penalty for a simple scoring error that can easily be corrected using todayís technology. Golf is a game built on traditions, but this is one thatís got to go. I dread the day when Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson wins a historic major, and then is disqualified for signing an incorrect card. Iím sure their minds are racing when theyíre in the scorerís tent. It would be easy to overlook an error on the scorecard. Halt this train wreck before it happens.

Rule Change #5

  • Last but not least, dropping a golf ball into play after losing a ball is a complicated process. A drop has the potential to roll back into the hazard or end up in an awful lie. Think about it. Your score is already in peril. Why not just place the ball on the ground? This simple rule adjustment would greatly enhance the chance for recovery.

Now isnít that simple? Golf, the most complicated game on the planet, needs more simple.

Tell a friend


image 30x30 ssmart 1/04/12

oh ya

image 30x30 zeke.zietak 6/20/11

As an golfer who plays strictly by the rules mostly due to the fact that I play in so many tournaments and don't want to be DQ'ed and loose my entry fee I have uttered the first 4 of your 5 rules 1,000's of times and couldn't agree more. Your 5th rule change is already covered by the rules as they are. If your ball roll back in a hazard you drop again and if it does it a secoed time you place the ball where it first touched the ground. Dropping onto a bare spot or something other than perfect should be left alone as you can have those lies anywhere and need to learn how to hit off of them. I would like to add one more change to the rules. Rule Change #6: You should be able to repair and pat down spike or drag marks that some other golfer in front of you made without penalty. Your on the green and should be able to have the smootest roll possible. Deciding speed & break is hard enough without calculating how to bank your ball off of 7 different spike marks. As long as the intent is not to gain an unfair advantage & the integrity of the shot is maintained I have no problem with some changes, but until it happens I'll keep it by the book, like it or not.

image 30x30 bruce.r.pollock 4/15/11

Makes perfect sense to me. As you mention 99% of the golfers in the world are not pro's therefore the rules should be modified for the average golf player, i.e., in the mid to high handicap range.

You are attempting to access a feature only available to members of

Signup or login for complete access to all the features and benefits available on

Jason S. Deegan

My obsession with golf goes back to my college days when I began playing. Since then, I've reviewed more than 500 courses in eight countries for at least a dozen golf publications. My favorite memory? A mulligan "ace" at the Ballyliffin Golf Club in a remote stretch of Ireland. I'm still waiting for the real thing.

If you would like to receive email notification each time Jason S. has a new article posted on, please click here to sign up.

Jason S. Deegan

Disclaimer: By entering this information you agree to have an email sent to you and you are the legal owner of the email address and agree to receive email notification from