Rules of Golf in Plain English

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"The cry for the simplification of the Rules of Golf is a stock-in-trade of the journalist during the winter months. Countless words on the subject have been poured out to an ever-tolerant public, but still the long-sought simplification does not come."—Henry Longhurst, 1937

The hopes of renowned writer and golfer Henry Longhurst—and millions of golfers before and after him—have finally been realized. In The Rules of Golf in Plain English, Bryan A. Garner, American English...

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Overview


"The cry for the simplification of the Rules of Golf is a stock-in-trade of the journalist during the winter months. Countless words on the subject have been poured out to an ever-tolerant public, but still the long-sought simplification does not come."—Henry Longhurst, 1937

The hopes of renowned writer and golfer Henry Longhurst—and millions of golfers before and after him—have finally been realized. In The Rules of Golf in Plain English, Bryan A. Garner, American English language and usage expert, and Jeffrey S. Kuhn, volunteer USGA rules official, have translated the knotty Rules with the encouragement and permission of the United States Golf Association. The result is a modern, readable version that offers, for the first time, clear guidance to both amateurs and professionals.

Based on a 338-word set of thirteen rules written in 1744, the official Rules have grown, over two and a half centuries, to 40,000 words. Numerous contributors and a complex revision process have rendered these Rules so opaque and stylistically inconsistent that a companion volume—the 600-page Decisions on the Rules of Golf—has been published to help golfers navigate them.

Both lawyers and avid golfers, Kuhn and Garner recognized the difficulties that the language of the Rules of Golf created, especially in a sport that expects players to call penalties on themselves. By reworking the Rules line by line, word by word, they have produced an accessible resource that no golfer—from the duffer to the pro—should be without.

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Editorial Reviews

Cleveland Plain Dealer
Lee Trevino once said that the Rules of Golf should sit inside a matchbook. If the situation wasn't covered there, you'd add a stroke and keep playing. Unfortunately, that's not the case. Today's rule book is as big as ever and the decisions regarding those rules could fill a small phone book. To the rescue comes The Rules of Golf in Plain English. Authors Jeffrey Kuhn, a volunteer USGA rules official, and Bryan Garner, an English language and usage expert, with permission from the USGA have tried to put the rules in simpler terms and words that are more understandable. They've also included changes made this year that will be in effect until 2007. The book is handy in size and easily fits in a golf bag.

— George Sweda

Philadelphia Inquirer
Any golfer who has thumbed through the Rules of Golf knows it's as readable as the federal tax code. So dense and impenetrable are the rules that an entire cottage industry of books exists to explain how to proceed. . . . The latest book is The Rules of Golf in Plain English. As unlikely as it might seem, the coauthors are a couple of Texas lawyers, Bryan Garner and Jeff Kuhn, who met when Kuhn enrolled in a seminar Garner was teaching on how to write legal briefs that weren't full of legalese. . . . Among those praising their efforts are David Fey, executive director of the USGA, and Jamie Conkling, a PGA Tour rules official.

— Joe Logan

Seattle Times
It's a shame that this book is even necessary, but it sure beats reading the official rules of golf.

— Craig Smith

Cleveland Plain Dealer - George Sweda

"Lee Trevino once said that the Rules of Golf should sit inside a matchbook. If the situation wasn't covered there, you'd add a stroke and keep playing. Unfortunately, that's not the case. Today's rule book is as big as ever and the decisions regarding those rules could fill a small phone book. To the rescue comes The Rules of Golf in Plain English. Authors Jeffrey Kuhn, a volunteer USGA rules official, and Bryan Garner, an English language and usage expert, with permission from the USGA have tried to put the rules in simpler terms and words that are more understandable. They've also included changes made this year that will be in effect until 2007. The book is handy in size and easily fits in a golf bag."
Philadelphia Inquirer - Joe Logan

"Any golfer who has thumbed through the Rules of Golf knows it's as readable as the federal tax code. So dense and impenetrable are the rules that an entire cottage industry of books exists to explain how to proceed. . . . The latest book is The Rules of Golf in Plain English. As unlikely as it might seem, the coauthors are a couple of Texas lawyers, Bryan Garner and Jeff Kuhn, who met when Kuhn enrolled in a seminar Garner was teaching on how to write legal briefs that weren't full of legalese. . . . Among those praising their efforts are David Fey, executive director of the USGA, and Jamie Conkling, a PGA Tour rules official."
Seattle Times - Craig Smith

"It's a shame that this book is even necessary, but it sure beats reading the official rules of golf."
Paul McNamera

"The Rules of Golf in Plain English is exactly what its title promises. . . . I recommend it heartily."
Jamie Conkling

"The Rules of Golf in Plain English doesn't take shortcuts, but is written to make the rules clearer to readers. A wonderful teaching aid."
David Fay

"The Rules of Golf in Plain English is a valuable tool for anyone with an interest in the Rules of Golf . . . . Clear, useful, and very authoritative."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226458182
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2008
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 144
  • Product dimensions: 4.00 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Bryan A. Garner is president of LawProse, Inc., and Distinguished Research Professor of Law at Southern Methodist University. The editor-in-chief of Black’s Law Dictionary, Garner is the author of several best-selling books, including Garner’s Modern American Usage and, with Justice Antonin Scalia, Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts and Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges.

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Table of Contents

Preface
Rule 1 The Game
Rule 2 Match Play
Rule 3 Stroke Play
Rule 4 Clubs
Rule 5 The Ball
Rule 6 The Player's Responsibilities
Rule 7 Practice
Rule 8 Advice and Indicating Line of Play
Rule 9 Information About Strokes Taken
Rule 10 Order of Play
Rule 11 Teeing Ground
Rule 12 Searching for and Identifying Ball
Rule 13 Playing the Ball as it Lies
Rule 14 Striking the Ball
Rule 15 Substituted Ball; Wrong Ball
Rule 16 The Putting Green
Rule 17 The Flagstick
Rule 18 Movement of Ball at Rest
Rule 19 Moving Ball Deflected or Stopped
Rule 20 Procedures for Lifting, Dropping and Placing; Playing from Wrong Place
Rule 21 Cleaning Ball
Rule 22 Ball Interfering with or Assisting Play
Rule 23 Loose Impediments
Rule 24 Interference and Relief from Obstructions
Rule 25 Interference and Relief from Abnormal Ground Conditions, Embedded Ball, or Wrong Putting Green
Rule 26 Water Hazards
Rule 27 Ball Lost or Out of Bounds; Provisional Ball
Rule 28 Unplayable Ball
Rule 29 Threesomes and Foursomes
Rule 30 Three-Ball, Best-Ball, and Four-Ball Match Play
Rule 31 Four-Ball Stroke Play
Rule 32 Bogey, Par, and Stableford Competitions
Rule 33 The Committee
Rule 34 Disputes and Decisions
Rule 35 Definitions
App. 1 Penalty Summary Chart
App. 2 Golf Etiquette
Index
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First Chapter

The Rules of Golf in Plain English


By Jeffrey S. Kuhn Bryan A. Garner

The University of Chicago Press

ISBN: 0-226-45815-6


Chapter One

This book doesn't explain the Rules of Golf. Many other books have done that, with varying degrees of success. Instead, it translates them, faithfully, into plain English. It makes them readily accessible to a wide readership-from seasoned players to beginners, not to mention fans of the game. It doesn't "dumb down" the rules. Not at all. Rather, it employs Albert Einstein's principle about expressing ideas as simply as possible without oversimplifying them.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF THE RULES

The Rules of Golf trace their lineage to 1744, when the golfers of Leith, Scotland, drew up 13 rules of play comprising just 338 words (printable in half a page). Some of these original rules are familiar to modern golfers: "If you should lose your ball ... you are to go back to the spot where you struck last, and drop another ball, and allow your adversary a stroke for the misfortune." In today's informal nomenclature, we call this "stroke and distance."

By 1812, the code posted by the St. Andrews Society of Golfers had grown to 17 rules, still printable in less than a page, comprising 541 words. The lost-ball rule (like all the others) lost the second-person you, which was replaced by the third-person player. Although the 1812 rule more closely resembles the modern rule, the phrasing still seems quaint: "If a ball is lost, the stroke goes for nothing, the player returns to the spot whence the ball was struck, tees it, and loses a stroke." And in this 1812 code, the famous phrase loose impediments made its debut: "All loose impediments of whatever kind may be removed upon the putting green."

The rules evolved. In 1899, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews (R&A) issued its first official code, which underwent periodic revisions. In 1921, the "provisional ball" was added to speed play. In 1922, golf balls were first required to be uniform in weight and size. In 1939, the maximum number of clubs was set at 14.

Meanwhile, the United States Golf Association (USGA) had taken root in 1894, and gradually it diverged from the r&a on various points, from the size of the golf ball to the out-of-bounds rule to the penalty for an unplayable lie. The first chair of the USGA Committee on Rules suggested that the American adaptations made golf "more adaptable to American links."

Then, in 1952, the rules became uniform worldwide as the USGA and the R&A joined forces to issue a single rulebook. Among other changes, they abolished the stymie-at the insistence of the Americans-and agreed that the scorecard must be countersigned by the competitor.

Decade by decade, the rulebook grew. By 1970, it was 75 pages comprising about 18,000 words. By 2003, it was 132 pages, in smaller type, comprising nearly 40,000 words. Words and pages have proliferated to deal with the endless variety of issues that the game of golf continually raises. Anyone who doubts the complexity of these issues should take a look at Decisions on the Rules of Golf, the 600-page question-and-answer encyclopedia of golf rulings intended as a companion volume to the Rules of Golf.

Over several generations, many hands the world over have contributed to the Rules of Golf. As with any body of rules that have evolved over time, stylistic inconsistencies have crept in. The style is sometimes wooden, legalistic, and opaque.

Ordinary golfers have learned not to expect much enlightenment when reading through the rules. This is particularly troublesome in a sport that has traditionally prided itself on the history of players' calling penalties on themselves. How ironic that one of the game's traditions is hindered by a cumbersome code.

Believing that ordinary golfers should reasonably expect to understand the rules that govern their play, we've rewritten the rules to maximize readability.

HOW THIS PROJECT CAME ABOUT

We're both golfers, and we're both lawyers. One of us (Garner) has spent many years training lawyers and judges to write in plain English. He has written many books on the subject, such as Legal Writing in Plain English (2001). Over the past 12 years, he has taught more than 1,500 seminars on the subject. The other (Kuhn) was a participant in one of those seminars. More important, he has devoted himself for over a decade to attending USGA rules seminars and officiating at many USGA championships; he has been at the center of some particularly difficult rulings in major events.

Upon learning of Garner's experience in revising the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure and other sets of state and federal rules, Kuhn approached Garner during a break in a legal-drafting seminar in March 1999. He said: "What we should really work on is the Rules of Golf."

After talking it over, the two of us agreed to embark on the project. We worked through draft after draft-ten in all. We simplified wordings, added headings and subheadings throughout, improved the numbering system, adopted the second-person you (not even knowing, at the time, about the 1744 precedent for this convention), eliminated sexist wordings, added contractions where they seemed natural, made every subsection citable, and rearranged a few provisions to make the rules read more logically. We did all the things that good legislative drafters do to make their work accessible to as many people as possible.

We've had some excellent help with this project. Jeff Kuhn's legal assistant, Andrea Hecht, organized materials, typed the manuscript, and entered corrections countless times-always with great skill. Jamie Conkling, a PGA Tour official, reviewed our early drafts to ensure that we were faithful to the rules. Jeff Hall, the USGA's director of rules and competition standards, helped us incorporate official 2004 rules changes into our translation. Jeff Newman and Tiger Jackson of LawProse, Inc., expertly proofread the manuscript. Linda J. Halvorson of the University of Chicago Press expedited the book's approval and publication.

The USGA generously gave its permission for us to publish this translation. We dedicate this book to golfers everywhere. It's for the good of the game.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from The Rules of Golf in Plain English by Jeffrey S. Kuhn Bryan A. Garner Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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