Do You Play Real Golf?
Are you playing golf, or are you playing a game that you and your friends made up? I have tried to pass on the importance of playing the game of golf the way it was designed to my friends and golf partners for years without much success.
They seem to think that the game they are playing is called golf. I fail to see the resemblance. Their ball lands directly behind a tree and they simply move it out to the fairway in order to have a shot to the target. (I am sure you have seen the commercial by now of Phil Mickelson watching an amateur kick his ball away from a tree.)
If the ball is in high grass, they just take it out of the high grass and place it on level playing field for a better chance of hitting it with their next swing. If it goes out of bounds, they not only do not hit again from the tee which makes it their third shot; they place the ball back in bounds down at the point of entry of the out of bounds markers and do not take a penalty stroke.
They say that they are just playing for fun and I am too serious about the game. However, at the end of the day when they compare our scores, they shout to the heavens that they just shot an 86 (they have actually improved a lot since we started. They used to score in the 100's consistently even playing by their rules.) Of course, I know that they would never break 100 if they played by the U.S.G.A. rules which govern all amateur golf.
Am I in the wrong here? Should they be able to make it up as they go along? I believe the Senior Leagues have ruined the game of golf for the older players. They allow a two club drop from anywhere on the course except the sand. Wow, is that a great concept , or what? They can all go to the 19th hole afterwards and brag about their rounds in the 80's while drinking that cold beer. Who are they kidding?
For years, I scored in the 74-88 range and I never touched the ball from tee to green. I was beating my comrades by ten to twenty strokes while they were playing by their Mickey Mouse rules. Anyway, I am going through a tumultuous period with my game right now unlike anything I have ever witnessed on the golf course. I have taken a nosedive and can not find my swing. My scores have plumeted and these same guys are now beating me on the course.
Okay, influenced by my current scores, I decided to play by their rules. Otherwise, we are not playing the same game and I am at a disadvantage. This is what I told myself, anyway. So, on the very first day of trying to swallow my pride and engage in their game, here is what happened; they moved their ball from behind trees and out of tall grass and did not take penalty strokes. My ball goes into a creek. I take it out and place it and tell them I am not taking a penalty stroke and they blatantly disagree.
Sure, I know there is a difference in going into the creek, or hazzard versus landing behind a tree. But is there really? Think about this for a moment. Playing by U.S.G.A. rules, I take a ball out of a hazzard and take relief and I may have a decent shot when taking my next swing. I took one stroke going into the creek, one stroke dropping the ball away from the point of entry no closer to the target and I hit a shot to the green and I am now laying three.
The guy with the ball next to the tree who plays by the rules will try to hit the ball if he can get a club on the back of the ball either left, or right handed. He might have to turn his club around backwards and try the trick shot. Then again, he may be able to try and hit it with the club facing the correct way. However, he may hit the back of the ball and the ball might hit the tree and go backwards deeper into the trees, or into a hazzard, or simply not move. Now, he has to repeat the same thing over again. Of course, he could have taken an unplayable lie rule and moved the ball two club lengths no closer to the target and taken a one stroke penalty. See where I am going with this? Being behind the tree may be worse than going into a creek. Therefore, why do I take a penalty for my misfortune if they do not take a penalty for theirs?
I can simplify this right now. Please do not call the game you are playing Golf. Call it scramble, or anything else, but please do not call it Golf. Let me give you some analagies of the game you are now playing. When you play football with your friends, call it a touchdown if you reach the five yard line. If you are playing tennis and your ball hits the net and comes back to you just hit it again without penalty because you did not like that shot. When you play basketball with friends, give yourself two points if the ball hits the rim. Why worry about the design, or rules of the game you are playing? Just go out there and have fun. The only thing I ask is that when you finish playing the game of golf as I know it, do not tell anyone what you scored.
After just one day of playing this way, I want to go back. Guess what? I love to hit the trick shot from behind the tree. I love to hit the huge hook out of the trees and onto the green. I love to open the clubface and hit out of tall grass. I spent years developing these skills in this game I have played called Golf. I just do not want to take those shots out of my game. So, the answer is to just play my game knowing that it is the way it is supposed to be played and not compare my scores with my playing partners....there simply is no comparison. They even had me taking Mulligans most of this year. Nobody forced me. I had decided that maybe this would be the one acceptance of their rules that I could agree with. Then, I reminded myself that it is not in the rule book. So, I am going out there this week and play the game that we all know and love.
And, for goodness sakes everybody, let's play the proper tees. If you only hit the ball 200 yards, get off those men's tees and move it forward. Why do you think there are several tee boxes?
Let's play GOLF!