If you ever get hold of a copy of the Rules ot Golf, you would see that the front half of golfer's holy book deals with etiquette.
It is as if golfers live in a different social, where how you behave on the course is pre-determined. The Rules of Golf have an entire 1,000 page of interpretations in another book - just in case someone disputes a decision.
Even the Freemasons do not have has many rules in their secretive society as those of us who whack the little white ball all over the place in all sorts of conditions.
While the Freemasons keep their rules and regulations a secret because they do not want the rest of us to know what they are doing behind close doors of their lodges, the rule makers of golf are more daring - their rules are all out in the open, but you need a double phd to get all the golf laws correct.
What am I griping about? Well, ever since the run-up to the British open, I have had the Royal and Ancient website (www.randa.org) set as my screensaver my computer.
Besides all sorts of information available on everything golf, the wise sages of the R&A also put out an on-line quiz on the rules of golf. But darn it, I have been failing quite miserably at it.
I pride myself as one who knows the rules of golf very well and have often been a reference point for friends when they have had a dispute on the course. There was even an occasion when these two friends called me in the middle of a game for a ruling (how do you like that?).
Unfortunately for these guys, according to the R&A electronic quiz, I am just an average hack with average knowledge of the rules.
I even tried to get around the system by keeping a copy of my trusted Rules of Golf book by my side to answer one or two of the quizzes, but guess what? I barely managed 60% correct.
Here is an example of a question asked:
"A player's ball lies on the putting green He strikes the ball too hard and the ball rolls off the green, down the slope at the front of the green, and it stops 25 yards away in the middle of the fairway. The player may deem his ball unplayable and place a ball on the
green where he last played from. True or False?"
If you said False like 1 did, then you are WRONG.
I can hear all of you scratching your heads and ask "how can?"
Well, according to the R&A, see Rule 28 Ball Unplayable, The rule states:
“The player may eddm his ball unplayable at any place on the course, except when the ball is in a water hazard. The player is the sole judge as to whether his ball is unplayable.
"If the player deems his ball to be unplayable, he must under penalty of one stroke:
a. Play a ball as near as possible to the spot from which the original ball was last played (see Rule 20-5); or
b. Drop a ball behind the point where the ball lay, keeping that point directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped, with no limit to how far behind that point the ball may be dropped; or
c. Drop a ball within two clublengths of the spot where the ball lay, but not nearer the hole.
"If the unplayable ball is in a bunker, the player may proceed under Clause a, b or c. If he elects to proceed under Clause b or c, a ball must be dropped in the bunker.
"When proceeding under this Rule, the player may lift and clean his ball or substitute a ball."
PENALTY FOR BREACH OF RULE:
"Match play - Loss of hole; Stroke play - Two strokes."
And if you do not believe the ruling, the R&A, website also links you to another page where all the decisions on the application of this rule have been made. The link also gives the reason for the decision.
I would suggest that all golfers give the quiz a try as it is a good means to improve your knowledge of the rules. I also urge readers to go on to read the rules and previous decisions handed down.
You can also download the entire Rules of Golf from the website and the latest decisions will be included.
However, the folks at the R&A and the US Golf Association (USGA) are not infallible. In a posting in January, they admitted that they made a mistake.
It was suppose to change the rules concerning smoothing of a footprint in a bunker. From their original press statements, the two lords of the golf laws said they wanted to encourage golfers to rake bunkers after a shot and also promote such proper behaviour.
Somehow in their zest to prevent golfers from cheating and encouraging proper etiquette, they fumbled the wording.
The two associations have decided that the new rules as they meant it to be will only apply from 2010 when they are next due to publish the rules again.
Till next month, keep reading the rules.