Who built Stonehenge? Where is the lost city of Atlantis? What happened to Amelia Earhart? Why the heck can’t I break 80? Some of life’s mysteries may never be answered, but to get to the bottom of what’s killing your golf game every weekend, I’m going to suggest something radical: learn more about the rules. You may think the Rules of Golf only exist to punish you, but if you dig a little deeper, you may actually find a way to save a stroke or two. Let’s take a peek at the evidence:
The victim: The woods have become a golf ball graveyard
Some days, the driver just isn’t your friend. If you’re not confident you can keep a second drive in play or just want to avoid the walk of shame back to the tee, there is another option for a lost drive. You can take a drop in the fairway (up to 2 club lengths from the rough), on the line with where your drive left play, with a two-stroke penalty. This may be your best option at guaranteeing your 4th shot is from the fairway.
The victim: A mutilated green sent your putt wayward
Keep your divot tool handy. You can fix any damage (with the exception of aeration holes and natural wear) and remove any loose impediments in your path on the green. Sorry to those of you who are running out of excuses for your poor putting.
The victim: Your ball was buried alive
While the wet, muddy days on the course may be few and far between here in Southern California, you’ll still have the occasional moonshot that gets cratered in the rough. Don’t worry: under the new rules, you’re entitled to free relief if this happens. No need to turn your club into a weed whacker anymore.
The victim: You assaulted the bunker but still couldn’t get the ball out
One of the most frustrating experiences on the course is getting trapped in a bunker and no matter how hard you swing, the ball just won’t leave. If you come across a ball buried in the trap or in front of an insurmountable wall of sand, consider this: you can take a drop outside of the bunker, on a straight line away from the hole from where your ball lies. Sure, it comes with a two-stroke penalty, but it may actually save you strokes (along with saving your from extra effort and embarrassment).
The victim: Your pride (and possibly your wallet)
At the end of the round, there’s only one person you should be comparing your score to: yourself. The fact is that most golfers will shoot over par on just about every round, so is par really a fair barometer of how you played? Alternatively, if you keep a Handicap Index, you’ll have a personalized target score for every round depending on the difficulty of the course and can track your improvement from round to round. Furthermore, if your competing against your friends by playing straight up or arbitrarily handing out strokes, your probably hurting your chances. Using your Handicap Index is the most accurate method to determine how many strokes each player should get and ensuring that golfers of all skill levels can compete fairly.
Kevin is a born and raised Southern California golfer. His golf highlights include occasionally breaking 90, losing an entire dozen balls in one round, and sinking a 20 foot putt on camera on the first take. Kevin is a member of Tiny Putters Golf and his current Handicap Index is none of your business.