Here’s a guide to 20 often mysterious unwritten golf rules.
Studying golf rules is something I like to set aside for cold and rainy days. But there are those who take their Rules very seriously and seem to enjoy digging deeper into the arcane. They also read the Decisions that are designed to clarify the Rules as they apply to the many and varied circumstances in which the golfer, the golf club and the golf ball venture. Sometimes they are rewarded for their efforts.
Honestly, I’ve read many of the decisions and I find them often to be an exercise in obfuscation. Hence, the now-infamous debate about whether or not an ant is a burrowing animal. Still, for those who respect the game, a working knowledge of the Rules is essential. Most of us who love the game have a copy of the Rules in our possession and refer to them with greater and lesser degrees of frequency.
There’s another dimension to golf rules, often invisible, rarely articulated, subtle, and unwritten. There’s no USGA or R&A publication to guide the hapless golfer through this thicket of informal golf protocol. However mysterious and obscure they may be, it’s woe to the golfer who transgresses these unwritten golf rules.
But there’s hope for the uninformed because ours is an unusual sport that revolves around what the Rules of Golf describe as The Spirit of the Game –
"Golf is played, for the most part, without the supervision of a referee or umpire. The game relies on the integrity of the individual to show consideration for other players and to abide by the Rules. All players should conduct themselves in a disciplined manner, demonstrating courtesy and sportsmanship at all times, irrespective of how competitive they may be."
The unwritten golf rules that revolve around four key words embedded in that Spirit: integrity, consideration, discipline, courtesy.
Next: Ignorance is Not a Good Excuse: Know The Rules