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  • Alistair Tait

A radical Rules of Golf idea

Here’s a radical idea: Maybe anyone who wants to become a member of a professional golf tour should have to pass a Rules of Golf test. Maybe then they wouldn’t wait 55 seconds for a ball to drop into the hole. Maybe they’d remember to sign their scorecard.

I was still trying to get my head around Si Woo Kim’s 55-second wait for his ball to drop into the cup on the 476-yard, par-4, 2nd hole at Harbour Town Golf Links during the third round of last week’s RBC Heritage when I read about Yani Tseng’s latest exploit. No, Tseng hasn’t recaptured the form that took her to the world number one spot and 15 LPGA victories. She failed to sign her scorecard after the opening round of this week’s Hugel-Air Premia LA Open on the LPGA Tour.

It’s not the first time this season an LPGA player has been disqualified under Rule 3.3b (2): Player’s Responsibility: Certifying Hole Scores and Returning Scorecard. Two-time major winner In Gee Chun failed to do so after the second round of last month’s Kia Classic. She was in a share of fourth place heading into the final 36 holes. Silly. She won’t make that mistake again.

In Tseng’s case it was probably to avoid embarrassment. She’s been awful since making her comeback this year after a long time away from the game. She hasn’t broken 75 since she resumed playing. Her scoring average is 80.25. She was reportedly heading for a similar score in Los Angeles, so she probably decided she didn’t want anyone to know her actual score. Still, as anyone who plays this game knows, you always sign your card in medal play, no matter what you score. It’s part and parcel of the game.

As for Si Woo Kim’s long pause waiting for his ball to drop, he claimed the ball was moving and he didn’t want to hit a moving ball. Kim thought he’d made a birdie when the ball finally dropped into the hole. He was strangely surprised when PGA Tour Rules Official Steven Cox told him that, under Rule 13.3: Ball Overhanging Hole, he’d made a par since the rules say players have a reasonable time to reach the hole and 10 seconds to see if the ball drops.

I couldn’t believe the umbrage directed at the Rules of Golf by players who should know better. On Instagram, Emiliano Grillo called the ruling:

“Absolute BS.”

Charley Hoffman wrote:

“Another horrible @usga rule!”

David Lingmerth reacted with:

“Terrible rule, if it wasn’t moving they wouldn’t have waited. No one would’ve. @usga @therandagolf,”

Cameron Tringale asked:

“Does this make sense to anyone else?”

Mark down Grillo, Hoffman, Lingmerth and Tringale as tour pros who need to join Kim and brush up on their knowledge of the Rules of Golf.

The 10-second rule has been in place for ages. It used to be Rule 16-2 in the old rule book that pre-dated the supposed simplification of the rules which came into effect 1 January 2019. So simple are the new codes many players obviously still don’t know them!

The 10-second rule makes complete sense. Otherwise you’d have players waiting minutes in the hope of a gust of wind nudging the ball into the hole. Play is already slow enough.

Simple question: why don’t players know this basic rule? What have they been doing all this time? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, why all players don’t know the laws which govern how they make their living is a complete mystery. Imagine an accountant not knowing the tax laws, or a lawyer ignorant of the laws of the land.

That’s not to say all tour professionals are ignorant of the Rules of Golf. Many know the laws which govern the game and how to use them to their advantage. Jack Nicklaus and Seve Ballesteros knew the rules and used them to good effect. Annika Sorenstam attended rules seminars during her career to further her knowledge of the game’s codes.

Just think, if players emulated Sorenstam and took time to learn the Rules of Golf they’d know 40 seconds was the recommended time to make a stroke: not two and a half minutes. They’d know the correct procedure when they hit a crooked shot is to shout fore: not just stick out their right arm. They wouldn’t spend nearly a minute waiting for a ball to drop into the hole and they'd make sure they signed their scorecard.

Tour players knowing the Rules of Golf? What a radical idea.

#JustSaying: “We used to do on course rules seminars for players at tournaments, but we had to stop them because no one was turning up.” Former European Tour chief referee Andy McFee

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