Ivan Morris – Discussing the new golf rules

Ivan Morris – Discussing the new golf rules

Mutt: I have to say that in general I agree with the new, simplified rules of golf published by the R&A.

Jeff: They are not rules yet. They are only proposals. Did you do the survey about them? Feedback is mportant?

Mutt: How can I do that?

Jeff: It's on the R&A website, www.randa.org. You can even comment and make suggestions about matters not in the proposals. I know you enjoy telling administrators how to make the game better. You have until the end of August to send in your comments.

Mutt: Anything about handicaps? (Laughing out loud) I'm sick of watching pros on TV consulting note books and doing endless calculations – especially on the greens – it would put you off watching golf altogether.

They should ban those maps and tell them to use a rangefinder instead. You'd think that some pros were on an expedition in the Amazonian Jungle they consult so many maps.

Jeff: DMDs suit amateurs but they do not provide enough info for pros unless they are in a part of the course that their caddie hasn't mapped. DMDs are too basic for pros.

Caddies lining up players is a definite no-no, in my opinion. There's nothing on handicaps but I suggested strengthening the code of etiquette in the preamble.

You will be allowed to move a loose impediment anywhere, including in bunkers without penalty and accidentally touching the sand with your hand will not be penalized.

Mutt: One thing I don't like is battering down spike marks. That'll become a gardening exercise and cause ructions. It's fine in theory but in practice - no! Elite golfers are scrupulous but club players aren't.

Too many casual players tap down every imperfection on the way to the hole regardless. That's gaining an unfair advantage on the scrupulous. What did you suggest in the questionnaire?

Jeff: First and foremost, I asked for a root and branch review of amateur status. The excessive value of prizes needs to be curbed and I'm in favour of open golf under 'license.'

This would allow elite ams (only) to accept money if playing in pro events. All of the elites want to be pros anyway.

If they aren't earning much they'll soon realize that they had better try a different career.

One of the most interesting proposals but it's not a rule yet, arose in the questionnaire when the R&A asked for 'advice' regarding a new procedure for balls lost or hit out of bounds.

I suggested OB be treated the same as a lateral hazard i.e. drop for a penalty of one stroke at the point of crossing the line, or play from where the errant shot was dispatched for one penalty stroke as before - but as soon as the player walks forward, he has made his decision and can't change his mind and go back.

A lost ball is trickier because there can be unusual circumstances. I suggested dropping a ball behind the area where the ball is lost and in line with the flag for a 1-shot penalty, or else within two club lengths of where it is agreed the lost ball lies for 2-shots?

The option to play a provisional should remain but once you put one into play that’s the option you must take (unless you find the ball in the allotted time, of course!)

You can’t have players deciding to go back to the tee after he/she arrives at where they thought the ball was.

Jeff: The majority of golfers have never read the book of rules and yet they condemn cheating. When I began golf as a teenager, my parents gave me a rules book to study and I was examined on it regularly.

Mutt: It's not the rules themselves but interpretation that causes confusion.

If I had a euro for every rules dispute I have settled, I could go on a nice holiday.

The book of rules is hard going but the Book of Decisions is fascinating.

Oh yes, I forgot, if you move your ball accidentally while searching, it's no longer a penalty as long as you replace it in its original position.

It is also proposed to reduce the time allowed for a ball search to 3-minutes.

Mutt: I don't agree with that even if I do complain about slow play all the time.

Balls are expensive! I can’t tell you how many times I need a full five minutes to find my ball.

Mutt: When will these proposals become the rules?

Jeff: January 2019. Currently, there are 34 rules and 1200 decisions. It's overdue clarity and simplification was brought into the process.

To be fair, golf is a self-regulating game played in over 200-countries, so this is a complex undertaking. Any sign of bifurcation between the pro and amateur games?

Mutt: Bifurcation is in the same category as getting a free drop from a divot - no chance! Which is a shame.

But I agree with you that it could be the game's saviour at least where the ball is concerned.

I also find it hard to get my head around the notion of dropping my ball from an inch above the ground.

Jeff: A ball moved accidentally on the green, for any reason, will be no longer a penalty if it is replaced is another long overdue change, wouldn't you agree?

Mutt: Absolutely! See you on the first tee in three minutes!