The Rules Thread

There have been a few interesting rules related stories today so I thought I would kick off a thread as Styles suggested a few days back. This caught my eye from Jack Nicklaus from a interview on the Golf Channel this morning (courtesy of

Here are the Traditional Rules of Golf basics:

What would the game lose, if anything, by adopting this simplified set of rules?

Just glancing over them here, I don’t like this one because it opens up the option of having no real challenge with a big lead and couple of holes to play. Say if you had a 4 shot lead with 2 to play and the last few holes have crap everywhere off the tee, but nothing up by the green, the way you could lose with conventional rules is by spraying a few tee shots and re teeing or walking back to the tee etc. When you hit one in the crap or ob, the next shot(3 of the tee) can be fairly nerve wrecking especially when the trouble is still in the same place. That’s a challenge. With the trga rules, you now have the option to spray your last 2 tee shots and take your medicine(kinda like waking a batter that a pitcher doesn’t want to face- a rule I don’t like) and make a couple of easy 5’s if they’re par 4’s and take your win. You could even throw in a double. Obviously that’s a very specific situation, but variations of that could happen on any hole at any time. I don’t think it’s a good rule for tournament golf.

The only rule that I find “on the edge” for me is the flag in/out rule. I find myself agreeing with macs that it could potentially slow play down rather than speed it up. Some guys wanting in some guys wanting it out. I say the current rules of golf are fine. I see the point of the rule, but I can also see its downside.

Otherwise I think this is fine. I doubt it would affect my score much.

What happened with the flag in/flag out rule is such below:

When you were a long way from the pin you just left the flag in to save anyone having to attend it…that way they could worry about their own putt and it saved on foot traffic around the hole and lots of twoing and froing by everyone whilst on the green


When everyone was close to the hole (inside 10 or 15 feet for eg) the flag was pulled and you would putt out normally

the only time I left the flag in for a short putt was when I lagged a long 50 footer up next to the hole from the fringe on a par 5 and just tapped it in for birdie from a foot away so Lag could then keep the flag in for his long upcoming putt… so the flag didn’t have to come out and be laid down and then picked back up and put in again…it was really easy and painless

If someone watches The Masters from 1960 in The Vault under Arnold Palmer Majors (or it’s probably on youtube) all the players basically putted with the flag in from long range and then it was pulled when everyone was up close…so it is no different to what happened then

As for the out to the fairway and walk back 30 yards and drop…it wasn’t such a bad thing…thankfully I never had to do it!!

The OOB penalty probably gets off a little light in this sense sure…but the unplayable and the water hazard penalty drop are worse off because instead of sometimes dropping right next to the green with a hazard relief you are now 30 yards farther away mostly with a much tougher pitch shot over a bunker and from an awkward distance…or with an unplayable instead of taking club length relief you are now 30 yards farther away again with a much more difficult shot upcoming
I think on the basis that it is easy and everyone can do it without thinking “is this a lateral hazard or a water hazard”…and “where did it last cross the hazard” and “where is my line of sight backwards from the flag”…it was basic, simple and easily understandable for all players…still stroke and distance…

I can see the points about why this may seem strange but quite frankly it was easy for all to understand and there really was zero chance of a rules infraction or cheating with a generous drop to gain an advantage on the next stroke like so many are prone to do…

Interesting take on the hazards by the green. So are there technically no hazards as such? Is it that basically if you can’t find your ball you figure out where it was approximately and then go 30 yards back? I was wondering in terms of grounding your club, are there still hazard lines and do the regular rules apply when you’re in them- re: grounding the club etc.?
I still think that it’s too easy with the tee shots, though like everything else, if everyone has to do the same then it’s even, I suppose. I would still feel like there’d be a significant removal of pressure on the tee with that drop rule, and I’d feel like I’m getting a very good deal with the drop, though maybe that’s just me. I would look at altering that somehow if I was in charge- I haven’t thought too much about it but I imagine there’s a fairly easy amendment to that. I also think Macs point is a good one- though it seems a rare enough occurrence that it wouldn’t be a huge deal. Maybe?
Overall I think they’re great rules, and they appear to help with the flow of the game. I wonder why they introduced the pin out on the green rule to begin with- does anyone know that was happening that made them address and change that rule? I wonder was it TV influenced. It seems that a flag in the way of a camera while someone was putting out would impede on the scene. Anyone know the story there?

I think these are wonderful rules.

Bom, regarding playing out the last two holes scenario, I think many golfers today could choose to play an iron off the tee and have no risk at all, bogeying both holes and taking the cheque.

I imagine the pin-in/pin-out rule may slow things down until players get used to leaving it in - once they realize that leaving it in is not a disadvantage they will happily leave it in even for short putts, in my opinion.

What about situations where we accidently move our ball? Do we just replace it?

What if a player is in the rough and caught improving his lie by patting down the grass behind the ball? This is where the rules can start to get complex.

However, if we were to apply the TRGA rules to the society golf where I play, I think we could reduce our rounds from 5 and a half hours (yes, that’s right, 5 and a half hours) by at least 1 hour. So much time is spent playing provisionals, looking for golf balls, slow green etiquette, etc.

But the onus on accuracy, one way or another, is removed. In the heat of competitive tournament golf, that’s a pretty big deal to say the least.

I think this is a good thread for sure. I hope it just doesn’t cover the Gay Rodeo Rules :laughing:

Only saw this once in what I think was a professional tournament, and I thought it was a bit of a stretch on a rule. Forgot who it was…but they hit into a greenside bunker in which the hole had 2 greenside bunkers. This guy went into the bunker which did not contain his golfball and proceeded to test the sand with the club. Is that permissible, and if so, why?

Not permitted. 13-4a says the player must not test the condition of the hazard or any similar hazard. However if you blast a ball out of one bunker into another bunker, the restriction no longer applies in the first bunker, so you can rake the sand (as would be in the interests of speedy play.)

That’s what I thought too Steb. I’m sure the guy wasn’t assessed a penalty. Wish I could remember the telecast.

Arnie, that list of rules going by the title gives the basics and is so full of holes it’s hardly worth discussing. The more complete (and at a glance slightly contradictory) version is at

I have a feeling it was Hilton Head…but they classified some of the areas as waste bunkers so you could ground your club and go whack away until your heart was content …

That’s why the rules get ridiculous at times…what’s good to do somewhere is not good to do somewhere else…one week it’s OK, next week it’s not…one week you play USGA rules and then you pop overseas and then have to abide by R&A rules…it’s nuts and too much

that’s why the TRGA rules are simple… you either play the ball where it is…OR…you take a drop for one stroke and walk backwards 30 yards…

BTW we didn’t ground our clubs in bunkers in Vegas- that rule was as normal without adjustment as far as I know…it would feel strange taking practice swipes in a bunker or grounding your club anyhow so I don’t think that even crossed anyone’s mind to do such a thing?

Thanks Steb, I realised there was a more detailed set but thought it was best to start off with the basics first. Anything in there that you struggle with?



I like this rule…

Truthfully, I do not have the time to attend the flag stick when you are 50 feet away and I have a 3 foot birdie putt to mark, over think and make :sunglasses:
I really don’t want to trample all over my own line anyway and besides I am still basking in the shape of my approach shot and I honestly have no idea if your ball actually rolled on or not. You are away…

I promise I will stay off of your intended line and not crowd the cup with my shadow or new pink (clogs) Dawgs. I certainly won’t grab the flag stick and bend it over at a 90˚angel and then expect you to consider that visual into your long read as well. We are not pros you know?

So please, just putt your ball and stop standing there with your (bitchh wings) hands on your hips, waiting for me to notice you need the flag attended.
You are wasting time!
Like I said, I am busy but that doesn’t mean I’m not cheering for you.
Now putt it in …and lets get this party started :exclamation:

Wow, it felt good to vent and a girl can dream can’t she

Like most of the critics of the TRGA rules, the rule I most disagree with is the one that doesn’t penalise OOB and hazards the way they are penalised under the R&A rules.

Pitching my 2c into Teddy & Bom’s discussion, I would remind them of Robert Garrigus’ melt down at the last in the St Jude Classic this year when a 6 would have been enough. If he’s been playing 3 from the middle of the fairway he’d have made 6 easily. Instead he was under pressure the entire length of the hole, took 7 and lost in the play off to Westwood.

Would Jean Van de Velde have won the Open if the TRGA rules had been in force at Carnoustie in '99?

Tapping down spike marks is an obvious improvement to the current rules but the rest of them are by and large doing their job and in my opinion are not the reason for slow play.

In the two groups I played with at TRGA over the two days I never saw anyone grounding or practicing strokes through sand, probably as you suspect, it never crossed anyone’s mind to do otherwise. However, with completely different people, in a tournament with a million bucks on the line, or to secure a tour card, I suspect there would be a greater likelihood that it could cross someone’s mind.

From the basic list, here are some immediate thoughts:

Putting with pin in–I make heaps more from close with the pin in so I’m sorry guys, put it back in for me. The pin is for showing the position of the hole, not for helping the ball go in or robbing a ball from going in. It may so happen, but at least the choice comes only when it is unlikely to interfere.

I’m seeing the new breed of pro being accompanied and constantly advised by:

  • his swing coach
  • his mental coach
  • a team of spread down the hole with wind gauges reporting back wind conditions
  • a member of the green staff or long time member giving break information
  • an analyst consulting the TV coverage and reporting observed breaks, club choices and common mistakes by previous players

plus the pro telling his opponent how he’s losing it at the top and isn’t allowing for enough break.

Tapping down spike marks was once trialled for a period and pros spent absolutely ages fixing anything on their line that wasn’t perfect. It was scrapped as round times blew out.

Fixing ball marks–is that anywhere? In bunkers–no more plugged lies. Is my ball sitting in a shallow pitch mark on the fringe or is it a depression? Are we still playing it as it lies? Can I fix that pitch mark on the fringe I’m trying to putt over, or again, is it just a depression?

I drop, it rolls 10 yards closer to the pin closer to the pin. Then what?

If you hit a ball into brush and you find it totally playable, you’re not allowed to play it? ‘Brush’ is not used nor understood what it is exactly in many parts of the English world.

My ball is in bounds, but I can’t stand out of bounds to play it?

Does fairway include fringe around green? How is casual water defined? Is 15 yards away still within the general vicinity? What’s an example of something that isn’t in the general vicinity?

Should tax evasion be handled by simply charging the outstanding amount of tax without a fine? Both citizen and IRS know how much is owing. If there was no fine, many would try their luck in getting away with it knowing that in the rare case they got caught, they’d simply just have to pay what they should have anyway. There needs to be tough penalties for cheating so it is discouraged, as the game is founded on self-regulation. Unfortunately it can be impossible to separate cheating from innocent mistakes, so the innocent must very, very occasionally cop an undeserving DQ to preserve the integrity of the game. Taking one for the team if you like.

BTW I think the TRGA rules are fine for the TRGA events as the participants have the true spirit of golf at heart, but even at the local comps I play weekly they’d be pounced upon by the typical golfer who will use anything to his advantage.

Nice analysis Steb.

What about having the pin “a non-factor”? Why not just have some directional stick behind the green in-line with the hole. The stick could also have some adjustable ball/flag indicating whether the hole location is up front, middle or in the back