Relax the rules, people. You'll have more fun playing golf.
That's the message the Golf Channel has started promoting with its "Relaxed Rules" series. Tournament golf is supposed to be full of pressure and stress and challenging conditions to identify the best player.
Casual golf should be the opposite of those things.
I loved the analogy of Charlie Rymer, the co-host of "Morning Drive" who compared golf to a big house that needs "a more welcoming front porch."
"When there's nothing on the line but fun, recreational golf should be an enjoyable experience," Rymer said. "Trying to remember and decipher the official rules can get in the way of a good time."
Golf Channel has created a list of seven rules to follow to make the game simpler and more fun.
Video: Matt Ginella and Charlie Rymer reveal the Relaxed Rules of Golf
1. MAXIMUM SCORE: Golfers should pick up and quit keeping score once they reach "double par." Isn't 6 on a par 3, 8 on a par 4 and 10 on a par 5 punishment enough? Following this simple guideline will speed up the game and help keep beginners from getting too frustrated.
2. PENALTIES: All penalties should be one stroke, including out of bounds, water and lateral hazards, a lost ball and an unplayable lie. Drop a ball near where the original was lost and play on. This will also save on time and arguments over the interpretations of the golf's most complex rules.
3. SEARCH TIME: Spend two minutes looking for a lost ball and no more (not the five they do on the PGA Tour). Once it's deemed lost, drop and move on. No more nonsense of returning to the tee for a drive out of bounds.
4. UNFORTUNATE LIES: With playing partners' consent, balls may be dropped out of divots or footprints, away from tree roots and any other dangerous lies. This is the only rule that might cause some casual golfers pause. We've always been taught to play the ball as it lies. If we hit it in an unfortunate spot, then we play from that unfortunate spot and take our medicine. If the ball is in the middle of the fairway in a divot, that's a different story. Roll it over onto the grass. Someday we all hope that rule is changed to allow relief from a fairway divot.
5. CONCEDED PUTTS: Putts may be conceded with your playing partners' consent. This should be a given in every non-tournament round, even in the annual death-match with buddies. Concede more putts to keep things moving along. There's no reason to make everybody grind over 2-footers all day long.
6. EQUIPMENT: No restrictions, including number of clubs. This is probably the one rule suggestion that won't affect too many golfers. Few recreational golfers will add more clubs to their bag. We have trouble hitting the 14 in our bag. Why should we need more?
7. COMMON SENSE: When in doubt, use common sense and fairness. This is the most important offering. It's a catch-all that should keep pace of play moving forward.
Matt Ginella, another co-host of "Morning Drive," believes this is an exciting time for the game because all its problems -- slow play, cost, rules snafus, welcoming more people of all skill levels -- are being addressed for the future.
"We're not suggesting that golfers ignore the official rules. They should continue to be used for any type of competitive play," Ginella said. "But when it's a match among friends, Relaxed Rules can make the game easier, faster and more fun. These simply are common sense practices for avid amateurs, and it's how the majority of the game is being played anyway.
I'll use some of these for my Myrtle Beach upcoming trip.
Okay, the true nature of golf is to be challenged. To meet, accept and over come the challenges of golf. The lesser the challenge met the lesser the satisfaction gained. The game is designed to punish errant shots. As a player you are responsible to accept the consequences of penalties. Otherwise, you may be mocking the spirit of the game. You may also consider that, as having fun. The true fun is to play your best and attempt to follow the rules to your best ability. So as to feel the highest level of satisfaction. Could that be having fun? Knowing you've met, accepted and overcame an inherently difficult game? Huh?
My thoughts; #'s 1 through 5 are good ideas.
#7 Good luck, common sense left the golf course a long time ago.
#6 needs be maximum of 10 clubs only, all players all the time. This will never happen as equipment manufacturers control the rules too much (golf ball distance as an example). As a part time caddie if you show up with more than 14 club prepare to make a trip to the locker room or car to remove the extras :)
These rules only work if everybody playing that day does the same, otherwise a group playing behind another group that take 5 minutes to look for a golf ball won't be too happy.
On a final note, nothing is wrong with golf (head in the sand maybe), but it seems to be those making an immense profit are concerned about growing the game. Reduce green fees and equipment costs and that will grow the game as more people will be able to play. And while you are it get rid of the dress code, golf clothes are too expensive for new comers to the game perhaps. The price of a golf lesson has become way too high from some teaching pros as well.