The Simple Game of Golf Tries to Simplify Its Rules

Of all the sports, Golf is one of the eccentric games in the world with an avid likeness to strict rules and mannerisms. In fact, the rules of this game are fundamental to the culture and core of this game. With that being said, those who don’t love golf are not passionate enough to witness the greatness of the game and thus, they keep distance as it doesn’t come as quirky or crazy to them.

Lately, golf has seen some high-profile violations of the rules in major tournaments, drawing attention from the wider world. Many have labeled them as a reference point for absurdity. For a simple game like golf – hitting the ball and finding the ball, it is not a daunting task to comply with the rules of the game, even for beginners.

Rory McIlroy, a four-time winner of major tournaments and a former world No. 1 has voiced his concern about the game by saying ‘To modernize and make it simple is a good thing but with what’s happened in the last couple of years, with some rulings and high-profile things that have happened at crucial stages in tournaments, people who look at that and might want to get into the game say: ‘You know what? It’s too complicated.’

In line with the comments made by Rory McIlroy, the governing bodies of the game have been thinking of a change in scenario. Even they want to attract more people to make the game even more appealing in the world. For this reason, they have condensed the chapters and the verses of the rules with more than 30 proposed changes to the rules of the game.

However, the United States Golf Association and the R&A, have been actively pursuing these changes for more than five years, raising some questions like –

If the governing bodies want to remove the penalties for an unintentional infraction, which could be detected only after a video replay, would it represent a breakthrough or a further proof of madness of the game?

During the final round of last year’s United States Open, the U.S.G.A had ruled out many holes after Dustin Johnson (the leader of the competition) had possibly caused his ball to move slightly in the direction of the Oakmont’s slick greens. It must have been assessed as a one-stroke penalty after the round, ultimately narrowing the final margin of his victory. As per the proposed changes, all players must be penalized if they deliberately move the ball during the game.

Another modification would address a situation where Tiger Woods was facing in the final round of the 2013 Players Championship. During the championship, he finds out the water off a tee and he discussed with fellow competitors as to where the ball had crossed into the hazard. Together they had decided that the ball had gone into the water farther down the fairway, which was unlike from the video replays. And, Woods was not penalized for this but according to the new rules, any player would be penalized if he or she doesn’t maintain integrity, making his or her final decision as the game-changer.

Some other changes that could take place in the game are – players will be given alternatives to eliminate the ball from a bunker and would be able to take a two-stroke penalty to hit from outside the sand.

To conclude, the game’s governing bodies have not been able to set the tone for proposed modifications to speed up the game. They have taken six months to discuss these changes before making a vote on common-sense changes. So, the coming days will either observe dramatic changes to the game or continue with the violations of the rules of the game.