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How many times has this happened to you? Your tee shot takes a bad bounce into rough thick enough to smother a buffalo, or you split the fairway with a perfect 250-yard drive, only to find that it came to rest in a divot hole so deep that if it were on the moon someone would give it a Latin name. Naturally, you tap your ball out of those ridiculous lies and onto a nearby stretch of reasonably playable turf where you have at least a fighting chance of hitting a halfway decent shot.
After all, this isn't the Masters--it's just a friendly game of golf. And anyway, you know perfectly well that your playing partners in the opposite rough and on the other side of the fairway are doing exactly the same thing you are. Why then do you feel this nagging sense of guilt for simply having corrected what is obviously a totally unfair playing condition?
Why? Well, every golfer knows the answer to that question. It's all because of a deadly little booklet called "The Rules of Golf"--over a hundred brain-numbing pages filled with batty commandments, nitpicking definitions, idiotic distinctions, and blatant contradictions, which, taken as a whole, are about as relevant to the game of golf that most people actually play as Escoffier's classic haute cuisine recipes are to microwave cookery.
You see"The Rules of Golf" as they now stand (and they have been much amended over the years) have come to serve only one real purpose, and that purpose is not to establish a universal standard of fair play and sportsmanship for golfers of varying skills anywhere in the world. No, the purpose of "The Rules of Golf" is to ensure that during the opening round of amultimillion-dollar tournament, a modern professional golfer with a bag full of custom-made, individually swing-weighted clubs, the build of a linebacker, the concentration of a mongoose, and a close personal relationship with God, cannot step out onto a lush, manicured, overwatered, rarely played, divot-free, lovingly maintained sod farm of a golf course, like Augusta National, and score a 21-under par on the first 18 holes.
Now, you've seen pros like that on TV complaining about some course you'd kill to play on. And when they bitch and moan because the fairways haven't been cut close enough to let their drives carry 300 yards, or because the stuff in the bunkers isn't actual jewelers' pumice so they can't put a sand wedge a foot from the cup, or because they had to settle for a couple of 2-putts on greens with their own zip codes due to a spike mark or two, you must sometimes say to yourself, "Hey, I'm not playing the same game these guys are."
Well, you're right. You're not. And so it also stands to reason that you shouldn't be playing by their rules either. You should be playing by your rules--hackers' rules--or, as they are more formally known, "The Official Exceptions to the Rules of Golf."
Most golfers know a handful of these unwritten but customary exceptions--the mulligan, winter rules, gimmes--but the book you are now holding represents the first serious effort to collect and codify in one handy, easy-to-use volume all 62 of the time-honored, generally recognized modifications of, and exemptions from, "The Rules of Golf.'' Each exception has been rendered into precise, quotable prose, illustrated with simple-to-understand drawings describing the particular extenuating circumstances the exception covers, and presented in the natural order of play from tee to green so that the appropriate remedy for any situation is always right at your fingertips.So now it's up to you. Are you going to play the game as it was originally played and was always meant to be played, with a little common sense based on the simple fact that just hitting the ball is hard enough already, so players are entitled to a break once in a while? Or are you going to follow a set of hairsplitting rules drafted by a bunch of fussbudget country club WASPs who think that a municipal course is a period during which one studies tax-free bond issues, whose idea of fun is serving on a committee trying to decide whether a meteorite is a loose impediment or an outside agency, and who basically regard the game of golf not as an enjoyable pastime, but rather as a form of protracted litigation undertaken outdoors?
P.S. They also think that blushing pink and lime green are complementary colors. Happy hacking.
E x c e p t i o n 7
Ball Not Put Fully into Play
A player may replay any tee shot once, without assessing a stroke, if his ball fails to pass beyond the forward edge of the raised mound or grassy area comprising the ladies' tees, or if, as a result of his ball having contacted any artificial fixed equipment found on or near the teeing ground, such as tee markers, informational signs, ball-cleansing devices, benches, litter receptacles, drinking fountains, or his or his fellow players' golfing equipment or carts, it comes to rest in a place farther from, or no nearer to, the hole than the point where it was teed up prior to being hit.
E x c e p t i o n 8
Audible Interference with Swing
A player may replay his shot without assessing a stroke if at any time during his backswing or downswing, and prior to the moment when he strikes his ball, he shall hear a distracting sound or noise, including, but not limited to a: a horn, siren, bell, gong, or chime; b: a backfire, tire squeal, or engine whine; c: a cheer, shout, groan, or whoop; d: a bang, clap, crack, crash, slam, or snap; e: a blast, rumble, or roar; f: a thud, click, clunk, rattle, or clatter; g: a bark, bellow, whinny, bleat, or howl; h: a squawk, quack, cackle, cluck, chirp, honk, mew, or coo; i: a cough, hiccup, sniffle, snort, or sneeze; or j: a giggle, chuckle, chortle, snicker, or guffaw.
E x c e p t i o n 9
Protection Against Double Penalty
If a brand-new, high-quality ball just removed from a sleeve, box, or carton is struck by a player from the teeing ground of any hole directly into water, deep woods, impassable terrain, or ground out-of-bounds under circumstances that appear to foreclose the possibility of its recovery, the loss of that ball shall be deemed good and sufficient punishment for any infraction of the rules, and the player may hit a second ball without assessing a stroke or incurring any further penalty.
E x c e p t i o n 1 5
Ball Renounced in Flight
A player who hits a long, high drive that immediately travels in a clearly undesired direction may disown the ball while it is still in flight and instantly tee up and hit another without assessing a stroke for the first wayward shot, but he must begin his swing at the second ball before the first ball hits the ground, and he must remain in continuous motion throughout this procedure, thereby establishing that both shots took place during a single unbroken period of ball-striking during which he hit duplicate balls concurrently using a dual movement and a double-action swing, rather than hitting a pair of individual balls consecutively with two separate and distinct swings.
E x c e p t i o n 1 8
(John Daly Drive)
If a player attempts to hit a drive an unprecedented distance through the use of an excessively long, fast, or forceful swing in which his torso is abnormally contorted, or his club shaft goes well past parallel in his backswing, or he audibly grunts or moans during the downswing, or either or both of his feet come out of his shoes at the conclusion of his follow-through, and the resulting shot is unsuccessful, he may tee up and hit another ball without assessing a stroke, but before doing so he must return his driver to his golf bag and replace it with a 3-wood or a long iron, and he must then swing that club in a restrained, prudent, and judicious fashion, with a compact arc, a measured pace, and a moderate body movement. However, if he once again employs a wild and uncontrolled swing, he forfeits his right to replay under this exception, even if he should claim that this fresh instance of overswinging was caused by a reasonable desire on his part to make up for the fact that the second ball was being hit with a club of less inherent power than the driver, and hence to achieve his customary length off the tee, he had no choice but to strike it with a greater-than-normal velocity and ferocity.
E x c e p t i o n 1 9
If during an unsuccessful search for his ball a player shall find another ball that does not belong to him or to one of his fellow players and that does not appear to be currently in play from an adjacent hole, he may treat that ball as a "providential ball" and substitute it for his own ball if a: it lies reasonably close to the point where he believes his own ball came to rest, b: it is not an obviously different color, and c: it is not a range ball.
In playing this providential ball, the player need not assess a penalty stroke, since the award of one minus stroke for having found a ball cancels out the penalty stroke for having lost his original ball.
E x c e p t i o n 3 0
Unsolicited Advice as to Choice of Club or Method of Play
Any player who, as a result of unwillingly receiving and reluctantly acting upon an unasked-for tip, pointer, or suggestion from a fellow player, selects a club other than the one he intended to use, or changes his set-up, grip, stance, or swing, and then proceeds to hit a ball that falls far short of or carries well over his target, or that sharply hooks or slices, is entitled to replay that one shot without assessing a stroke or incurring any penalty, but he must at once cease applying the unsought advice to his game, and any additional mis-hits he makes shall be counted in his score unless they are the result of new and separate instances of gratuitously offered guidance.
E x c e p t i o n 3 2
If upon addressing his ball a player notices that one of his fellow players is standing slightly in front of him, even if that player is well off to the side of the hole, far from his likely line of play, and out of his field of vision, and he elects to proceed with his play without requesting him to move and then mis-hits his shot, he may replay it without penalty, provided he states convincingly that the misplay was precipitated by an apprehension or nervous concern that his ball could conceivably hit that player, even if it would have required a stupendously errant or deeply peculiar shot to put him at risk.
E x c e p t i o n 3 8
Ball Hiding from Player
If a player cannot find a ball that has been hit in plain sight into a reasonably playable area of the course where there is an accumulation of dead leaves, seasonal debris, grass clippings, or other forms of incidental camouflage in which a furtive ball could improperly conceal itself, the ball shall be deemed to be hiding, but not lost, and another ball may be dropped without penalty as close as possible to the place where the original ball is believed to be lurking.
E x c e p t i o n 4 4
Unbelievable Ball Position
If upon locating his ball a player discovers that it has come to rest in a patently absurd lie or outrageously unplayable position under circumstances in which he is not otherwise entitled to claim relief, he may rectify the grossly inequitable playing condition, without penalty, by tapping, kicking, or throwing his ball to the nearest playable lie, provided he clearly states that if he is required to play his ball as it lies, he is likely to exhibit behavior not in the best interests of golf.