Remember Dustin Johnson pleading to a rules official during the final round of the 2016 U.S. Open. I had his back and most of the world did too.
They say you can’t fix stupid, but you are able to complain about it and hopefully get it changed. Golf, this game we love, there is plenty of senselessness to go around. Witness the Rules of Golf, an encyclopedic catalog of do’s and don’ts that often fall beyond the bounds of reality
For argument’s sake, here’s our take on six of the dumbest rules in the most beloved sport on the planet. OK, maybe I am biased, but the game is pretty old and may need a little botox here and there. Just Sayin’
1. The Dreaded “DJ Rule
In the official ledger, it’s Rule 18-2. But ever since the 2016 U.S. Open, it’s more widely recognized as that *&%$!!!-ing Dustin Johnson Rule. You know, that nonsensical one under which the eventual tournament winner was slapped with a one-shot penalty for supposedly causing his ball to move a nano-millimeter on the 5th green. Never mind that he clearly didn’t intend to set the ball in motion, or that the micro-movement gave him no discernible advantage. The punishment stood. But we shouldn’t have to stand for it in the future. How about this? Next time around, no harm, no foul. Move the ball back, end of story!
2. No Relief from Sand-Filled Divots – In the fairway?
Let’s see if we understand correctly: if we spray a tee shot off-line and our ball winds up in the ground under repair zone, we’re entitled to relief. But if we smoke one down the middle and it settles in a sand-filled crater left behind by another golfer, we’re doomed to play it as it lies. That ground we landed in happened to be damaged. Someone tried to repair it. Sounds to us like… the ground is under repair. Now Im no genius, but are you following me here?
2. The “DROP”
You’d think that hitting a shot into a hazard would be punishment enough. But you’d be wrong. Under the Rules of Golf, the dogged victim then has to go through the tedious ritual known as the drop, which brings other potential rules infractions into play. If the dropped ball moves closer to the hole (as it so often does) twice, the player gets to place it. So why not just allow placement from the start? It would spare the player undue pain, and save the rest of us a lot of time.
3. Stroke & Distance
In American jurisprudence, it’s known as double jeopardy, a procedural defense that protects us from being prosecuted twice for the same crime. Sounds reasonable, right? No such safeguard exists for a golfer who bangs a ball into oblivion, only to be slapped with a stroke penalty on top of loss of distance. That’s two punishments for one misdeed, and it’s unjust by any measure. We, the people, call for a one-stroke penalty and lateral relief. Motion Carries!
4. Sprinkler Head in Your Putting Line
Your approach shot lands pin high, just on the collar, and a straightforward putt awaits, with just one problem: a sprinkler head lies in your putting line. Common sense suggests that you should get relief, no closer to the hole; a sprinkler head, after all, is a man-made impediment. But common sense apparently has no place here. Your only hope is that the course you’re playing has a local rule that allows line-of-play relief from immovable obstructions within two club lengths of the green, which, let’s be reasonable here, should really be the rule that governs all play.
5. Five Minutes for a Lost Ball – Really?
That lax allowance dates back to a bygone era, when life moved at a pastoral pace and golfers had the luxury of lollygagging. This is the modern age. Chop, chop, time’s a-wasting. We’ve got cat videos to watch and vapid tweets to send. The game needs to adapt. And besides, if you can’t find that errant ball in two minutes, you probably don’t want to in the first place. It will be under a rock or in a bush but with just enough clearance that those 9 deadly words are uttered “I think I can get a club on it”
6. Cant move a ball from a footprint in a bunker – This one Grinds my Gears
It might make sense on Tour, where players all have caddies and the grounds are as well-groomed as the gardens of Versailles. But many of the courses we mortals play are under-tended and trod upon by etiquette-flouting chops who don’t even attempt to rake up their mess, creating hazards within hazards. The more sensible alternative: if your ball lands in a footprint in a bunker, move it and place it elsewhere in the sand. Done, End of rant. You may go about your business.