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Golf rules change, champions don’t

Photo by Jonathan Rodriguez

You’ve done it before–just ask your mom and dad. You’ve bent them, broken them, made up new ones and yet, you still can’t run away from them. Rules are the inconvenient barrier that hindered you from what you thought would be the greatest night of your life. You may have been able to do any number of great things if it weren’t for your nightly curfew check, right?

Now imagine a world that is aimed to make life faster, a world that doesn’t make you wait for the good stuff, a world where the rules are always simple and lenient.

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m talking about the world of golf.

A place where every man’s fantasy is a reality and a place where women compete ruthlessly to be the best. As 2018 ends and 2019 becomes another year of failed resolutions, the world of golf has already gotten their six-pack abs after slimming down their rulebook. This not only changes competitive play, but also affects the life of the everyday golfer.

The head coach of the ORU golf team, Lance Watson, is merely interested in seeing how the rules play out.

“Right now, I do not have that strong of an opinion on the changes because I haven’t seen it,” Watson said.

In short, the United States Golf Association has changed 30+ rules, a number that seems large, but really doesn’t mean much. For example, one of the rules changed states that players will not be penalized for their ball hitting the flagstick if the ball is played from the putting green.

When asked about the classic hitting the flag penalty change, Watson noted that the “data shows that the percentage with the flag in … is greater. There is a guy on tour right now who’s a big percentage guru, Bryson Dechambeau, and he is leaving the pin in on everything. So, you are seeing some tour players already do it.”

This idea pushes for faster games and some players believe benefits their game.

Another rule change to help speed up a game is the five to the three-minute rule change. In the past, whenever a ball strays from the fairway and a search ensues to find the lost ball, players were allowed five minutes to search. With the new rules, players are only allowed three.

“I like the three minute rule because I hate looking for a ball for five minutes because I’m sitting there going, ‘We’re not going to find this ball,’ ya know?” said Watson, “Ninety percent of the time when we do not find a ball in the first three minutes, we do not find a ball.”

However, Watson also added that these changes help to simplify the game. Looking at all 30+ rule changes, the old wording is ousted and the new rules allow for players to focus more on the game.

“I like being able to move loose impediments in the bunker. You want to see how great you are from the bunker, not how good you are from twigs and sticks. I like that rule a lot,” Watson said.

Watson continued by stating he enjoyed the new “tap down rule,” which allows a player to repair damages on the green and putt without any hesitation of hitting a bump or divot.

“I like that the ball can hit you and it’s not a penalty–or hit your equipment–anymore. I probably liked more than I disliked though,” Watson said, commenting on the rule changes overall.

For example, if a player’s ball hits a tree and the ball bounces back and hits the player, the player won’t be reprimanded for it. In this way, the rule changes are meant to help the players, rather than making the game harder for them.

However, though these rule variations seem to create big changes to the game and may be confusing at first, Watson says that for those wearing the blue and gold on the course the game will be slightly faster with more straightforward rules and details allowing athletes to focus on winning.

Unlike your parents’ rules, these rules aren’t meant to be broken.

A more detailed list of the rule changes:

http://www.usga.org/content/usga/home-page/rules-hub/rules-modernization/major-changes/major-changes.html