The Rules of Golf and Honor

Golf has become a preferred recreational activity for people. Considered an elitist sport for many years, golf has increased in popularity over the decades and is now one of the most popular sports in the world. Golf is still said to be a sport based on honor.

Since golf includes a lot of precision to play, golfers have to abide by the rules of golfing strictly. This has been a problem for many golfers as there are such minute rules that have led to their downfall in golf. There have been many incidents in the golfing world where world-class players have been brought down by the rules. The players call it ‘the rule monster’, but being a professional sportsman requires everyone to follow the rules, however small or outrageous they might be.

During this year alone, which is still in its initial stages, there have been a couple of such incidents. Colombian golfer Camilo Villegas was penalized for breaking a rule at last month’s Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii when he broke off a piece of dirt that the ball would have hit on its way with his club. Villegas’ scorecard was considered to be incorrect in the light of this violation. He was deemed to have broken the rule 23-1 but only after a television viewer called in to alert the authorities about it. This caused a bit of controversy as the officials had overlooked his deliberate chipping of the dirt.

Scotsman Elliott Saltman was banned for three months when two of his golfing partners refused to sign his scorecard, accusing him of marking his ball incorrectly on at least five occasions. What was his crime? Saltman had placed his ball 9 o’clock from the marker, rather than 6o’clock as required and even though the difference is small, it is a matter of principle.

Now the debate has been started off again about the rules of golf and how famous golfers have been let off by the authorities, even though their violations may have been minor.

Mark Wilson, 2007

Golf rules clearly state that a golfer may not receive advice from anyone but his caddie. Mark Wilson’s caddie in the 2007 Honda Classic disclosed some information about Wilson’s golf club to a playing partner and was deemed to be in breach of the rule. Mark Wilson had to contend with a two-stroke penalty. Surprisingly, he was able to win the event!

Tiger Woods, 2006

Even the most famous of them all is not immune to the rule monster. At the WGC – Bridgestone Invitational, Woods hit the ball on to the roof of the clubhouse. The rules stated that the ball was still in play, but a worker moved the ball and Woods was penalized.

Michelle Wie, 2005

Now on to women’s golf. At the 2005 Samsung World Championship, Michelle Wie, who was making her pro debut, hit a ball out of bounds and proceeded to take a shot from there. Since she had signed her scorecard before the review, she was disqualified from the event as her score changed after the penalty.

Tiger Woods, 1999

This is actually an incident when the player was not penalized. Woods’ shot landed the ball behind a rock and he couldn’t take the next shot. He took the help of some people to move the rock and then took the shot, but since the rock was movable, he was not penalized.

Just last week Tiger Woods was fined for spitting on a green in Dubai, an action that was labelled disgusting, arrogant and not to be tolerated.

Tiger Woods in Dubai

In all of the incidents mentioned above, including Camilo Villegas’, the players broke the rules, though in most cases indirectly. This proves the vagueness of some golf rules that have been laid down to allow the game to be played in the proper spirit and with honor. These rules are so minute that one can easily forgive the player for failing to keep them in mind while playing. The pressure of playing should also be taken into consideration when making such decisions. It is better that the rules be clarified and more transparency included in them, so that the honor of the sport should not be tarnished by such incidents.

Images by: halim44
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If you enjoyed this post please leave us your comment below

Terry Crick PGA Professional February 21, 2011

The rules are the same for all players, and are in place to give all players a level playing field. I will promise you there are plenty of rules officials available if you need help. I just wrote an article on this topic a few weeks ago called the spirit of the game.


Tommy Priest March 14, 2011

We will be contacting you. Thanks. Tommy


Deloris May 20, 2019

And that is an investment threat worth taking.