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PGA Tour Players should know the rules! But they Don’t!

I am constantly amazed how little the PGA  and European Tour players know the rules.  It does not seem so prevalent in the LPGA, but that is just a guess.   I have always contended that Tour players should not be able to get a ruling from a referee until after they have completed their drop.  THEN, the rules official should step in and say “Sorry, you infringed the rules and here is your penalty!”  That would make watching golf a lot more fun!  Amateurs have to make rulings on their own constantly, and I have often had to pull out the rule book to check on a ruling.  By doing that, I am also educating myself on the rules.  I have recently downloaded the “Rules of Golf” app provided by the USGA for free! So now I don’t have to carry a book abound in my bag anymore.

Alistair Tait of Golfweek brings us his perspective on Tour Players and the Rules!

 I’ll never understand why the majority of professional golfers don’t put in the effort to understand the Rules of Golf. I’m amazed when players pick up stupid penalties for violating rules that they should know. The latest example is the two-stroke penalty incurred by Keegan Bradley in the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Bradley brushed sand off his line of play just off the second green. That act is prohibited under Rule 13-2, “Improving Lie, Area Of Intended Stance Or Swing, Or Line Of Play.” It’s a basic rule that Bradley – and his caddie – should have known.

Rory McIlroy made a similar mistake just off the ninth green in the second round of the 2012 HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship on the European Tour. Even worse, the two-shot penalty cost McIlroy a chance at winning.

McIlroy was playing with Luke Donald, who knew the rule.

“As soon as I saw him doing it, I knew I had to say something,” Donald said. “It’s a pretty basic rule, to be honest, and if I hadn’t said something, there are plenty of people who would.”

McIlroy lost last year’s Abu Dhabi tournament because of another silly rules violation. He failed to take full relief from a spectator walkway on the second hole during Round 3 and was penalized two shots under Rule 25-1, “Abnormal Ground Conditions.”

McIlroy’s response after that penalty was poor. “There’s a lot of stupid rules in golf, and this is one of them,” he said.

When asked whether he intended to improve his knowledge of the Rules of Golf, he replied: “No. I guess that’s why we’ve got the referees here. They sort of do that stuff. I’ve got better things to think about.”

Unfortunately, as Bradley’s recent incident proves, too many players share McIlroy’s view. Why study rules when a referee is only a walkie-talkie away?

Interestingly, players’ knowledge of the game is covered under Rule 6-1, which states: “The player and his caddie are responsible for knowing the Rules.”

After all these years, I still can’t understand why touring pros don’t spend more time learning the Rules of Golf. They’ll spend eight hours a day working on their games but won’t take 15 minutes to read the laws that govern the game. Fifteen minutes a day over the course of an entire career would make them pretty knowledgeable, and it’s not as if players don’t have down time on flights, in hotel rooms, etc.

As European Tour chief referee John Paramor once said, “Even if these guys learned the definitions, it would be a big help.”

Obviously not all players are ignorant when it comes to the Rules of Golf. For example, Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros and Annika Sorenstam are among those who not only knew the rules but how to use them to their advantage.

Sorenstam even voluntarily attended rules seminars. That’s more than can be said for most touring pros. The European Tour used to run rules clinics at tour events but had to cancel them because of poor attendance.

Too bad more of today’s touring pros don’t follow Sorenstam’s lead. Not only could it save them money, but it could mean the difference between winning and losing.

Alistair Tait has passed the R&A’s Refereeing and Rules of Golf Exam.

Source : Alistair Tait      Golfweek

Pictures : Galatians Design

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