Rules? We don’t need no stinkin’ rules…

14 05 2010

You must have seen the classic movie ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’. Do you remember the bit early on when Harvey, one of the Hole in the Wall gang, challenges Butch for the leadership? In an attempt to delay things a bit (Harvey is very big and very very tough), Butch asks what the rules are. “Rules? In a knife fight?” asks Harvey scornfully. “There’s no rules in a knife fight”. Whereupon Butch kicks him in the family jewels and the fight is over before it begins.

Which brings us – admittedly by a somewhat contrived route – to the Rules of Golf.  Of all the sports I’ve played, golf is unique in that players are required to call penalties on themselves. Golfers and non golfers alike were impressed by a British pro named Brian Davis a few weeks ago when he called a penalty upon himself  in a playoff for the Verizon Championship and so lost the chance of winning his first PGA Tour event. We don’t play for a million dollars on Saturday mornings at Glacier Greens but it’s difficult to believe that anyone would deliberately cheat his fellow competitors out of so much as a cent. Certainly anyone who would do such a thing would find it hard to get a game with most foursomes out there.

So we all agree that golf is an honourable game. Does that mean, then, that Members’ Morning at Glacier Greens is an oasis of integrity, where rules are never broken ? Sadly, I suspect not…Maybe not deliberately, but my guess is that rules are broken every week by people who don’t know them as well as they probably should. For that reason I urge you all to attend the rules evening that is to be put on at Glacier on June 2nd. I think you’ll find it both informative and fun.

In the meantime, here’s a mini quiz to give you food for thought about those stinkin’ rules:

1 As you know, you may start a round with up to 14 clubs in your bag. If you start with fewer than 14, can you add more clubs during the round?

a) Yes

b) No

2 You are allowed to lay a bag on the putting green to shield your putt from the wind.

a) True

b) False

3 How many club lengths behind the tee markers may you tee up the ball?

a) One

b) Two

4 What is the penalty in match play if you tee off in front of the tee markers?

5 What exactly does the term ‘through the green’ mean?

6 What are your five options when your ball lies in a lateral hazard?

7 On reaching the putting green, may you change balls?

a) Yes

b) No

8 Which of the following is not casual water?

a) Ice

b) Snow

c) Dew

d) A puddle

9 In marking the position of a ball, the marker must be placed behind the ball.

a) True

b) False

10 May you remove a red stake if your ball lies in a lateral water hazard?

a) Yes

b) No

11 What is the penalty for hitting a ball out of bounds?

12 Describe the procedure for getting relief when your ball is on a cart path.


1 a) Yes. And you can replace a club if it’s broken during the normal course of play. (i.e. not if you’ve broken it by having a hissy fit after a missed putt or a duffed chip, for example).

2 b) False. You’re not allowed to take any action that influences the position or movement of a ball.

3 b) Two. Remember – you can stand outside the tee boxes but your ball has to be between them.

4 There is no penalty in match play, although your opponent may ask you to replay the shot. In stroke play, it’s a two shot penalty and the tee shot must be replayed.

5 ‘Through the green’ means the whole area of the golf course except all hazards and the teeing ground and green of the hole being played.

6 Your options in a water hazard are:

a) Play it as it lies.

b) Go back and drop your ball as close as possible to where you played your  previous shot.

c) Drop a ball behind the water hazard, keeping the point at which the original ball entered the hazard directly between the hole and where you drop the ball.

d) Drop a ball  outside the hazard within two club lengths of where the ball crossed the margin of the hazard, not nearer the hole.

e) Drop a ball on the opposite side of where the ball entered the water hazard, equidistant from the hole.

(Options b, c, d and e all incur a one shot penalty).

7 b) No (unless your ball is damaged and needs replacing, in which case you should always consult your playing partner(s) first. You may, however, always replace your ball between holes – always remembering, of course, to inform your playing partners).

8 c) Dew is not casual water.

9 b) False (although that is the procedure recommended by the RCGA). However you mark your ball, make sure you don’t flatten the surface of the green by pressing your marker down hard.

10 Yes (unless under local rules the stakes are deemed immovable obstructions, and that’s not the case at Glacier Greens).

11 Stroke and distance (i.e. replay the shot from where you were originally and also add a penalty stroke).

12 You find the nearest point of relief and drop your ball within one club length, not nearer the hole, but the exact process is a little too complicated to describe here. I strongly urge you to come to the rules clinic at 5:30 on June 2nd here at Glacier Greens, when  local rulesmeister John Davis will actually take you out onto the course and show you the answer to this and any other questions you might have.

So, remember how Butch and Sundance and the rest of the gang ended up and make sure you know the rules. When we’re playing the ball in competition, playing for money and/or entering scores in the computer we want to do things right. Right?

All da best.

Dave B.

P.S. In other, unrelated news, Glacier Greens played a home and home interclub with Crown Isle this week and last. The first leg, at Crown Isle, brought a fairly crushing 35.5 – 18.5 defeat for the G.G. boys. This week, at Glacier Greens, the boot was on the other foot and the home team won 39.5 – 14.5. I guess home course knowledge really does help. Thanks to Crown Isle for being such good sports and congratulations to Paul Schroeder, John Pringle, Chris Pouliot, Jean Cote, Glen Horsepool, Ross Dowe, Adrian Haut, Barry Howell, Glen Parsons, Glen Sweetman and Peter Leskovitch for the part they played in the win. Thanks also to the catering staff at both courses for terrific nosh. More interclubs are scheduled for later in the season. Don’t miss out – they’re great!




6 responses

14 05 2010
Glenny the Sandbagger

I would appreciate some clarification on the 14 club rule. Should one of the 14 clubs actually leave the course boundaries due to a hissy fit, to wit, Blogger Dave on #4 tee as a full 4 rotation club toss resulted in him having to jump over the fence to retrieve same. (I believe it was a 15 wood.)
Now, since the Blogger left the playing field should he not forfeit the match and pay up immediately? Is it not stated under Section 43, subsection 2b that on a 4 rotation club toss as a continuation of a major snit that he must buy his playing partners 4 jugs of beer in compensation at the first opportunity?
As I recall, the Blogger retrieved his club, continued on in the match and scurried home directly following completion of play.
I’m sure Mr Davis will concur that there have been a number of violations for this one incident alone and that my interpretation of the penalties involved is, indeed, the correct one.
Just remember, Mr Brooker, it is never too late to right a wrong when it come to owning up to one’s rule infractions on the golf course.

Sincerely, Glenny, (not really a sandy, just a bad golfer)

14 05 2010
Bagger Dave

I am embarrassed to have to admit that your recollection of events is all too accurate, Mr Parsons. All I can say is that a) this incident happened so long ago that I’m pretty sure that the statute of limitations now applies and b) it was precisely because of my appalling behaviour on that occasion that I saw the light and have become such a rules nazi.

I am willing to buy you a Guinness in Ireland next week and a whisky of your choice in Scotland the week after if you are prepared to now let the matter rest…

Yours, abjectly,


P.S. It was a 7 iron.

14 05 2010

Thanks for the info on the rules Dave. As always an interesting post to read.
All the best,

14 05 2010
Bagger Dave

You’re welcome, Martin. Now the Canucks no longer have a personal interest in the Stanley Cup, no doubt they’ll be brushing up on the rules of golf…


17 05 2010


Good tips on rules here… you probably know about the Leith Society – this website has hundreds of rules scenarios and discussions. (Link below)

17 05 2010
Bagger Dave

Thanks a lot, Steve. I hadn’t heard of the Leith Society and the link looks really useful to anyone who wants to know the rules better. I appreciate you sending it to me.


Dave B.

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