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Are You An (Unintentional) Golf Cheat?

Did you know that the first known written set of rules for golf (way back in 1744) consisted of just 13 rules? What a wonderfully simple game it must have been. Nearly three centuries on our current Rules of Golf, published and approved by the USGA and the R&A, consist of over 200 pages covering 34 rules in-depth. It’s no wonder so many of us break them. We simply don’t know them all. To make matters worse, they can be revised and amended every few years (they’ve just been updated again this month) so the things we thought we knew may have now changed.

I play golf every week with women who are cheating and they don’t even realize. It’s often simple things such as taking a penalty drop in the wrong way, or having a practice swing and accidentally improving the lie before playing the shot. The list is long. Let’s face it, we don’t exactly encourage newcomers to golf to have to learn the rules. There is no test to pass to show their knowledge before they can play on the course. No requirement to even look at the rules book. How many of you even carry one in your bag? Golf is a self-regulating game, it’s just one of those things that we are expected to learn as we go along. And we certainly don’t want to put beginners off by overwhelming them with the rules before they’ve really got into golf.

Teeing off ahead of the markers is a rule violation

(Image credit: Carly Frost)

I’ve been playing golf for 30 years and was fortunate to have some wonderful rules mentors when I was a junior who kindly pointed out how I should take a drop, mark my ball on the green, attend the flag and avoid doing things that would cause me a penalty shot in stroke play or a loss of hole in matches. I try to pay this forward any time I can by helping women by showing them the correct way to do things and never chastise or challenge them if they get a rule wrong.

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