Stupid rules?

As reported by Golfweek online, Rory McIlroy stated: “There’s a lot of stupid rules in golf, and this is one of them.” This is in reference to an incident where Rory failed to take complete relief from an abnormal ground condition and was penalized two strokes at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. The two-stroke penalty cost him the championship, as he finished second, one stroke behind Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal. Perhaps before making such a statement, Rory could do some research into how the Rules of Golf evolved and how some of the pre-eminent authorities of the Rules of Golf explained their purpose. In a 1953 article in the USGA Journal and Turf Management, USGA Executive Director (at the time) Joseph C. Dey, Jr., stated: “The first thing to clarify is the purpose of the Rules.

Why do we need them? The purpose of the Rules is to make sure, as far as possible, that everybody plays the same game. Underlying the Rules are two very simple principles: Play the course as you find it. Play the ball as it lies. However, if we can’t play the course as we find it or if we can’t play the ball as it lies, then play fair. Just that: fair play.” Mr. Dey concludes his article thusly: “The best way to learn the Rules is to keep their spirit uppermost. For there is a spirit about golf, and it’s very much like the spirit of life. We have free choice to decide. Do we decide on the basis of fairness, or of total selfishness? As in life, so in golf we are really our own referee.” As it turns out, Rory was not forced to take relief from the abnormal ground condition, but when he did, he was required by the Rules to take complete relief. Actions have consequences. If you violate the Rules of Golf, you should be willing to accept the penalty.

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