The Rules of Golf

Tell me which rules of golf you think are:

I’ll start.

Loose Impediments
If a snake is wrapped around my ball, I can only remove it if it’s dead, but without the ball moving!! Otherwise, I have to coax it away hopefully or take an unplayable and penalty.

Rule 27
Stroke and Distance for a Lost Ball
Nope. Get together with playing partner, Marshall, spotters, etc and deem an appropriate best guess, drop with stroke, and play from there. All this rule does is slow play down. Ball OB? Yeah head on back to the tee and try harder.

Divots should be ground under repair and relief should be free.

Pros should be able to wear shorts.
Their legs don’t offend me. Let them breathe.


I’d recommend that anyone with an interest in the rules read The Principles Behind the Rules of Golf. You can get it here really cheap:

It has helped me understand the rationale behind some of the choices the rulesmakers have made, and to better understand how each rule has to coordinate with the other rules in order for the rules as a whole to make sense.

A snake would qualify as a Dangerous Animal, you get free relief.

To me, a lost ball should be treated identically to a ball OB, and the only logical choice is stroke and distance. Model Local Rule E5 allows you to play from the estimated spot, saving the time, but it applies two strokes.

I can’t imagine any way to appropriately define a divot hole, or when its no longer a divot hole, so the only workable option is to allow unlimited lift clean and place in the fairway at all times. No thanks.

I agree with the pros wearing shorts, I have no problem with that.


Snake, dangerous situation free relief.
Stroke and Distance, updated with local rule to allow almost exactly like you described.
Divots, absolutely not, no way to govern, play it as it lies.

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You guys are saying you can’t identify what a divot is in the fairway?

And in states that actually have Fall, I’m penalized two strokes because there are an infinite number of leaves on the ground and I missed the fairway by six feet?

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What if its halfway grown in, what if its filled with sand, what if its filled with sand/seed mix and the seed is growing? If you can write an effective and enforceable definition, please let us know.

As for leaves, Model Local Rule F-14 allows the committee to define piles of leaves as GUR. If its known or virtually certain that a ball is lost in GUR, you get free relief.


In a divot. If you can identify that it was indeed a divot made by a golf club, which anyone with at least one working eyeball can do. Regardless of what it’s filled with or growing.

I’m all for play it as it lies. Don’t fluff in the rough. If you’re under a tree, sorry, hope your punch out game is strong. But being penalized for a good shot that happened to land where someone else hit a good shot is insane. There’s too much shrug thems the breaks stuff in golf. Looky here to section 9 of rule 17 local ordinance 4.2-C says sucks to be you enjoy hitting out of this hole in the ground someone didn’t fill in.

One of the hardest things that I have with the rules of golf is that there are times when 1 rule says one thing and another says another. Leaves vs lost ball for example.
Yes, it is in depth and they are there to help you in most cases. But having a basic understanding of some of the major ones will apply to the vast majority of rulings you see.

What about being rewarded for a bad shot, is that equally insane? A ball hits a rock and bounces from a Penalty Area onto the green. A ball ricochets out of the woods. Luck works in both directions, if you want to “correct” the bad luck of ending up in a divot, you should “correct” the lucky bounce and toss your ball back into the trees.


I hit a sprinkler that bounced 30 feet in the air hit the flagstick and drops down to 1 foot. Without the sprinkler there the ball doesn’t get on the green. Is that fair for my opponent? No but it is part of the game.

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Can you explain your concern here, maybe another example? A lost ball is a lost ball, unless its KVC lost in an abnormal course condition. The rules allow leaves to be defined as GUR, which is an abnormal course condition. A lot of the rules are like that, a general rule with a limited number of exceptions.

The problem I have with the rules of golf are exactly this. They’re a puzzle and even guys who have played two decades on Tour can’t keep up with all of them. Half of them don’t have a set in stone definition (like the NFL catch rule).

How difficult they make following them to a T hurts golf. Tell a 12 year old who just hit the best drive of his life he has to play from that three inch deep divot Kevin the hack left in the ground and that kid will look up at you thinking what am I supposed to do? This is stupid. I don’t want to play this game.

Just make it easier to follow. Accept there are some rules that just absolutely do not make sense or keep the spirit of the game the way people used to think they do. This game, for most of us, is just supposed to be fun.

I’ve played all levels of golf. Casual men’s league. NCAA collegiate. High level junior. I’m a better than average player. I love the game and for MOST things in I’m a traditionalist…but the rules that penalize for things that absolutely do not give a player an advantage or penalize dumb luck hurt the game far more than help it.

Dustin Johnson lost a major because of an almost undefinable rule.

“Leaf rule” is more of a local rule/agreement among players than something actually in the rules. If you’re in a tournament, leaf rule does not apply (don’t play in fall tournaments)


I’m loving that there are some real rule-nerds on this forum. I had no idea about the potential for a local rule for leaves!


I thought the same thing, but I did look through the Model Local Rules and found the one I referenced. I can’t say I’ve ever encountered it in effect, but its there if a Committee wants to use it.

The committee of me and my friend Justin are gonna drop and keep the pace of play up.


For better or worse, lots of the guys on tour don’t know the rules that well. Take Bryson’s recent dispute over a ball under a fence. The rule is crystal clear, his ball was clearly OB, and he wouldn’t accept it.
I’d have no problem if we went back to the 1744 rules, 14 of them. No relief for cart paths, no relief for much of anything, no marking on the green, no repair of ball marks, just put it on a tee and touch it again when you pull it from the hole. That’s pretty simple, no complications.
Oh, and Dustin lost at Whistling Straits because he didn’t read the Conditions of Competition that told him every bit of sand on the property is defined as a bunker.

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I’m very much of the opinion that if you are playing a casual round, or even just competing within a group, then do what you want to do/the group agrees with even if it is not entirely within the Rules. I always move my balls out of obvious new divots (mostly because I don’t want to make that divot even worse). Maybe my handicap is .5 or less lower than it would be if I didn’t do that, but hey if I ever play in official tourneys, I’m only hurting myself with that. To add another personal example, when I was playing yesterday, someone from a different group yelled “FORE!” at the top of their lungs about 10 yards behind me right as I was starting my downswing. I tried to stop, couldn’t and wound up with a baseball checkswing, blocking the ball about 120 yards. I reteed, didn’t count the first stroke, and feel perfectly okay with that.


Dustin rules gaffe was clearly defined prior to play. He just didn’t read them.

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I guess what I mean is the rules say one thing but their may be a local rule in place that trumps it or as op first described defining a snake as loose impediment, it’s not of course but having general exceptions or local applicable rules lead to some confusion. I don’t have an issue with them but I would say I have a much better understanding of them than most, not your level of course. And I don’t miss the decisions book that’s for sure.

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