Rules Modernisation: final version

13 03 2018

Yesterday the USGA and the R & A unveiled the new rules of golf to be implemented as of January 1st 2019. There are several changes from the original draft published some months ago.

Below you will find a brief(ish) summary of the new rules, but for a clearer idea you’d be well advised to check out the information (and videos) provided on the USGA and R & A websites ( and

Modernisation of Rules, January 2019

 The R&A and the USGA finalised golf’s new Rules this month after an extensive review that included a request for feedback from the global golf community on the proposed changes.

The process to modernise the Rules began in 2012 and was initiated to ensure that the Rules are easier to understand and apply for all golfers and to make the game more attractive and accessible for newcomers.

While the majority of proposed Rules remain intact in the final version, several important changes to the initial proposals and further clarification of many Rules were incorporated. The most significant adjustments made following review of the feedback received from golfers around the world include:

  • Dropping procedure: When taking relief (from an abnormal course condition or penalty area, for example), golfers will now drop from knee height. This will ensure consistency and simplicity in the dropping process while also preserving the randomness of the drop. (Key change: the proposed Rules released in 2017 suggested dropping from any height).
  • Measuring in taking relief: The golfer’s relief area will be measured by using the longest club in his/her bag (other than a putter) to measure one club-length or two club-lengths, depending on the situation, providing a consistent process for golfers to establish his/her relief area. (Key change: the proposed Rules released in 2017 suggested a 20-inch or 80-inch standard measurement).
  • Removing the penalty for a double hit:  The penalty stroke for accidentally striking the ball more than once in the course of a stroke has been removed. Golfers will simply count the one stroke they made to strike the ball.  (Key change: the proposed Rules released in 2017 included the existing one-stroke penalty).
  • Balls Lost or Out of Bounds: Alternative to Stroke and Distance A new Local Rule will now be available in January 2019, permitting committees to allow golfers the option to drop the ball in the vicinity of where the ball is lost or out of bounds (including the nearest fairway area), under a two-stroke penalty. It addresses concerns raised at the club level about the negative impact on pace of play when a player is required to go back under stroke and distance. The Local Rule is not intended for higher levels of play, such as professional or elite level competitions. (Key change:  this is a new addition to support pace of play)

Major proposals introduced in 2017 that have been incorporated into the modernised Rules include:

  • Elimination or reduction of “ball moved” penalties: There will be no penalty for accidentally moving a ball on the putting green or in searching for a ball; and a player is not responsible for causing a ball to move unless it is “virtually certain” that he or she did so.
  • Relaxed putting green rules: There will be no penalty if a ball played from the putting green hits an unattended flagstick in the hole; players may putt without having the flagstick attended or removed. Players may repair spike marks and other damage made by shoes, animal damage and other damage on the putting green and there is no penalty for merely touching the line of putt.
  • Relaxed rules for “penalty areas” (currently called “water hazards”): Red and yellow-marked penalty areas may cover areas of desert, jungle, lava rock, etc., in addition to areas of water; expanded use of red penalty areas where lateral relief is allowed; and there will be no penalty for moving loose impediments or touching the ground or water in a penalty area.
  • Relaxed bunker rules: There will be no penalty for moving loose impediments in a bunker or for generally touching the sand with a hand or club. A limited set of restrictions (such as not grounding the club right next to the ball) is kept to preserve the challenge of playing from the sand; however, an extra relief option is added for an unplayable ball in a bunker, allowing the ball to be played from outside the bunker with a two-stroke penalty.
  • Relying on player integrity: A player’s “reasonable judgment” when estimating or measuring a spot, point, line, area or distance will be upheld, even if video evidence later shows it to be wrong; and elimination of announcement procedures when lifting a ball to identify it or to see if it is damaged.
  • Pace-of-play support: Reduced time for searching for a lost ball (from five minutes to three); affirmative encouragement of “ready golf” in stroke play; recommending that players take no more than 40 seconds to play a stroke and other changes intended to help with pace of play.

As you can see, we’re all going to have our work cut out to stay on top of the new rules. Like the changes or not (and in general I have to say I do), these are the rules we’ll be playing by come next January – so get ready!

Oh, and did I mention there’s going to be a new handicap system, to be implemented in 2020? I’m just going to have a little lie down…

All da best!

Dave B




The fastest hole in golf

3 11 2017

Last year, at Valderrama in Spain, a team of four French golfers set a world record by completing a 500 yard hole in just four strokes – and in less than 35 seconds!

A few days ago, at the Regnum Carya course in Turkey, the French attempted to defend their title against teams from England and South Africa. This is what happened:

(Just to put this feat into context: my usual foursome at Glacier Greens – and we’re not slow by any means – generally takes just over 3.5 hours to play 18 holes. These guys, at the rate they played this hole, would complete their round in er, just over 10 minutes! Just think of all the extra time that would give them in the bar afterwards!)

Cheers (hic).

Dave B.

Monkeys and typewriters

14 10 2017

The infinite monkey theorem states that a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type a given text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare.

So given enough monkeys and golf clubs it’s only a matter of time before your average golfer gets a hole in one, right? According to statisticians – and I know that’s just another way of saying ‘this is complete guesswork’ – your average golfer will get a hole in one once in every 12,500 rounds. If I play roughly 125 rounds a year (which I do, actually) I should get a hole in one every decade or so. More on that later.

For a professional golfer the odds go down to 2,500 to one every time he or she plays a par 3. This video shows what happened when former Ryder Cup player Edoardo Molinari was given 500 balls on a practice day at the Italian Open this week:

You can only admire the way Edoardo kept his cool as shots danced around the hole early doors but failed to drop. And you have to feel sympathy as he slowly unravelled as time went by. Forza Edoardo!

All da best!

Dave B.

P.S. Ridiculously (especially if you’ve seen my golf swing) I’ve had five holes in one. My good friend Bud (similar handicap, much better swing) has never had one. In the words of fellow hacker Glen Parsons, “She’s a harsh mistress!”




Peter the Impossible

21 09 2017
storm clouds are gathering

Storm clouds are gathering over Alberni…

When it comes to controversy, about the only thing my friend Peter Dobbs and I agree on is how to pronounce it. We’re both proud Canadians now, but our British origins are obvious when we say ‘contróversy’ rather than ‘cóntroversy’ as seems to be favoured in our adopted land. (Well, that and the accent, I suppose.)

So when Peter and I play our annual challenge match every September one thing that is guaranteed is that we’ll find something to argue about. Actually it’s not so much ‘something’ as ‘a bunch of things’. It kicks off long before we get to the course:

Me: ‘My handicap factor is 14.5. What’s yours?’

Peter: ‘Dunno. Give me 8 strokes.’

Me: ‘But we tied last year and I’m playing way worse now.’

Peter: ‘You’re always whining.’

So we arrive at the course (Arrowsmith) and Peter says ‘O.K. How about we just play even up for practice today and then play our proper match at Alberni tomorrow.’ Three hours later, Peter wins the last two holes to halve the match and celebrates as only he can. (Picture Brazil winning the World Cup of soccer).

Me (through gritted teeth): ‘Well played, Mr Dobbs. That was a great game. So we’ll play even up again tomorrow, right?’

Peter: ‘No. Give me 8 strokes’.

……………………(24 hours later, on the first tee at Alberni Golf Club)……………………:

Peter: ‘OK. 4 strokes then, but I’m quitting if it starts to rain.’

Me: ‘Why didn’t you bring your…? Oh, never mind. Just hit the ball.’ (I like to play golf at a fairly brisk pace. Peter plays as if he’s following a funeral cortege.)

At the turn, over 2 hours later (we’re a twosome, mind) Peter is 3 up in the match and I’m sulking.

Peter proceeds to sit on the bench by the #10 tee box and slowly consumes a sandwich. ‘I’m tired’, he says.

Me: ‘Get on with it. It looks like it’s going to rain.’

Three holes later and I’ve made a semi-miraculous comeback, having won three holes in a row. We’re now all square. It starts to rain – in torrents. I put on my wet weather gear. Peter rummages through his bag and finds a flimsy jacket and an umbrella with broken spokes. We play #13, a tricky downhill 200 yard par 3 and halve it in 4. Peter’s now completely soaked. I persuade him to play #14 (back towards the clubhouse) and he chips in from off the green to go one up in the match. Ba$tard.

Peter: ‘That’s it. I said I wouldn’t play if it rained. Game over. I win.’

Me: ‘No, wait. You can’t. There’s still four holes…’

Peter is already disappearing in the direction of the clubhouse: ‘You play on if you want. I’m going in for coffee.’

So I did play on. I raced round the last four holes in under 30 minutes and the sun was beating down before I’d even finished the first of them. Peter was still drinking his coffee when I joined him in the clubhouse.

Me: ‘You’re not seriously claiming you won the match, are you? You quit! And anyway it’s sunny now!’

Peter: ‘I clearly explained that the match was over if it started raining. It rained. I won. Simple.’

Me: ‘Bah. You’re impossible!’

ugly-trophy-2        Peter the Impossible, self proclaimed winner of the 2017 Brooker-Dobbs Trophy.

Not sulking

Me (in no way sulking).

Grrr! You deserved it, Peter. But just wait till next year!

Dave B.







Big Ed! (R+W 2017)

18 09 2017


Ed 02

Mr. Ed Hayes, ladies and gentlemen. The very worthy winner of R+W 2017

The 17th edition of the prestigious Red, White and Blue tournament took place this past weekend, and with it came a number of firsts: last year play was washed out on the Saturday, so we played 18 holes from the blue tees on Sunday morning and then 18 more from the red tees in the afternoon and thus RWB became R+B 2016. This year the weather was lovely on Saturday but Sunday – as promised – dawned wet and windy. A unanimous pre-round decision was made on the putting green: no 36 holes this year – just a quick 18 from the reds and hope we missed the worst of the weather. So R+W 2017 it was. Perhaps defending champion Joe Dunham summed up the general consensus: “Listen, Brooker – I’m too old for this sh!t.” He’s always had a way with words has Joe…

Three groups of three set off down the first fairway, and the first group (best described as ‘the No Hopers’ after their pitiful efforts on Saturday) were also the first to set a record: the fastest round ever played in the history of the tournament. Just 2 hours and 25 minutes after teeing off (and 2 hours and 23 minutes of pouring rain), Chuck Kennedy, Rod Gray and Rudge Wilson were back in the social centre with a variety of beverages in front of them. Their scores? Irrelevant. Their pace of play? Magnificent.

Group 2 (‘The Stragglers’), consisting of Joe Dunham, Dave Buckley-Jones and Yours Truly, failed to break any records but at least were still on speaking terms as they walked off the 18th green. Yours Truly had put a ball in the pond and racked up a triple bogey, Smokin’ Joe had just had a miraculous chip-in birdie and Mr Buckley-Jones had failed to notice either occurrence. Like the others Dave was very, very wet and just wanted to get inside, where he enjoyed being ‘leader in the clubhouse’ – for about 20 minutes.

The final group, the three players who were in  serious contention after their fine rounds on Saturday, took a bit more time about their golf. They consisted, said one of their number, of ‘two sandbaggers and an idiot’. The players concerned were low handicapper Bill Village and somewhat higher handicappers (and first time RWBers) Phil Ball and Ed Hayes. Obviously it would be unfair to identify the idiot, but let’s just say that it wasn’t Phil or Ed. Of the three, Bill hit lots of fairways and greens, Phil missed nearly all the fairways but hit all the greens (eventually) and Ed? Well, Ed had a splendid round and shot a 95. That’s 95 gross which comes to er, 59 net, which is a record for the RWB, as is his 12 shot winning margin. Blimey!

It was a pleasure to watch everyone at the prize table, as we all picked our well-wrapped prizes – in reverse order of finishing, of course – and laughed gleefully at what we’d chosen. I think Bill Village won the jackpot, though – a sort of troll thingy, designed to hold a bottle of wine to its mouth with a big, hairy claw. Just the sort of thing to grace Bill’s new gaff on Crown Isle. As Bill said afterwards – we can expect to see it again on the prize table next year, really well wrapped.

As for this year’s winner, Ed took the prize giving ceremony with good grace, even when he realised that the $9 prize money would not cover the cost of engraving and that he was honour-bound to keep the Big Club on display at home (for at least a day). After that? Well, past winners tell us that sheds, crawl spaces and garages appear to be the location of choice for the magnificent trophy

Many congrats Big Ed, and thanks to all for taking part. It’ll be a new, no 36 hole, Joe Dunham-inspired format next year. See you all then!

All da best.

Dave B.




Tales from the golf course

5 08 2017

two women golfers in a cart

Every week at Glacier Greens Golf Club dozens of members take part in our Saturday Men’s Club competition. At this time of year there might well be nearly 100 players competing, some of whom are really pretty good golfers. I, along with my two perennial partners, Kiefer and Rod, am one of ‘the others’: we’re not terrible golfers as such, but nor are we likely to play 18 holes without the odd mishap along the way. As a result, our concentration tends to waver after a while and we resort to laughing at each other’s poor shots (of which there are usually plenty) and telling jokes and stories. Some of these stories are obviously only loosely based on fact, but occasionally the teller swears that the story is true.

The following is the story that Rod, who also works as a greens keeper at the club, told us today while waiting on the 18th tee:

A couple of days ago he and a fellow greens keeper were tidying up one of the bunkers on the 18th hole. It’s a tricky dog leg par 4, requiring a decent drive followed by a well-judged approach shot across the pond. Two young women were walking past them towards the green, each with a number of clubs tucked under their arms. Their cart was still at the tee box, apparently abandoned.

“Trouble with the cart, ladies? Can I be of assistance?” asked Rod’s workmate Paul, obviously keen to help out these damsels in distress and, in Rod’s words, being ‘sickeningly polite’.

“No, we’re fine,” said one of the women, “We’re just, you know, following the instructions on the sign.”

The women carried on walking towards the green while Rod and Paul, somewhat perplexed, walked back to the tee, where they gazed at the sign in question. It read as follows:


Rod swears it’s a true story. Do you have anything to match it?


All da best.

Dave B.


Par Four? No – Parkour!

24 05 2017

Ever heard of parkour? No? Well, watch this short video of parkour pioneer Chase Armitage trying to make a tee time with Belgian pro golfer Thomas Pieters and you’ll get the idea:

Not unlike me trying to make my 8.23 tee time at Glacier Greens this morning…

All da best!

Dave B