Strict Rules of Golf

BOND THE SPORTSMAN -- "Strict rules of golf, Goldfinger!" To hold your own on the golf course, you will have to know the basic rules of the game. And to hold your own along side James Bond, you may have to know what strict rules might entail. "If that's his original ball, then I'm Arnold Palmer." 

"Shall we make it a shilling a hole?"

It is easy to understand why so many men around the world, are in love with the game of golf! Ask those who love the game and they will tell you that golf is the finest sport in the world. The following is a summary of the most common answers given by people when asked why they love golf:

It's Light Exercise
- The average golf game ranging over 18 holes usually lasts over a couple of hours when played outdoors. This is a great opportunity to take in some fresh air and sunshine for people who are unenthusiastic about gym-ing. While golf may not pace your heartbeat like a jog in the park, it definitely helps you enjoy light exercise in pleasant weather.

It's Relaxing - Since golf lasts longer than most games, it helps you divert your mind from the complexities of daily life. Golf, therefore, provides the necessary refreshment that you would need when the responsibilities of work and home take their toll on you. This also includes the fact that golf can serve as an ideal picnic idea too, which means the family will be able to spend some time together.

It's Sophisticated
- This isn’t hard to understand. Even though played by people from all walks of life, golf is usually associated with the rich and famous, especially in movies. In fact, golf is a great way to build business relations. Many a business meeting has been conducted on a golf course, where the setting is ideal to develop a rapport, away from a strict working environment.

Objectives of the Game

The aim is simple; you have to put the ball in the hole on the green with the minimum number of strokes. These holes are placed at varying distances ranging from a 100 to 500 yards. Scoring is also based on the number you shots you attempt.

The score in golf is called ‘par’. This is the number of shots you must attempt to complete a course. Usually, the golf courses are at Par 72. The par is:
• 3 on short holes
• 4 on medium holes
• 5 for long shots

The ball can only be struck from the tee with a club, while woods can be used off the tee or for longer shots. The putter, on the other hand, is used when the distance between the hole and ball is considerably shorter. When playing on the fairway or out on the rough, golfers usually use irons. Woods, irons, and putters are simply different types of golf clubs.

Major Rules of Golf
The gold rulebook is jointly published every 4 years by the United States Golf Association (USGA) and the Royal and Ancient Gold Club of St. Andrews (R&A). You can easily read the exact documents on the respective websites of the organizations. In fact, the USGA website features easy-to-understand animations of the major golf rules. Each of these animations last for about 2 minutes and you can see a visual representation of the rules and understand them better.

Here is a brief outline of the major rules currently in effect.

The game includes playing a ball from the teeing ground into a hole by one or more strokes as defined by the rules. This means that you cannot bring in another ball while you are in the middle of playing a hole.

Stroke is simply the forward movement of the club when you strike the ball. However, a movement will not be counted as stroke until you make the full swing, even if the ball isn’t touched. On the other hand, if you stop half way during the swing, it will not be counted as stroke. In essence, a stroke includes backward and forward movement, no matter how short or long, as shown in the picture.

A player can earn penalties in specific situations during a game, and they reflect on the scorecard in the same way as if the player had taken extra swings at the ball. In addition, extra strokes will be counted if the player violates a rule or hits the ball into an unplayable situation.
While stroke penalties are incurred on most violations, such as hitting a ball out of bounds (Rule 27-1), players can also be disqualified in certain other situations, such as:

• Moving to the next hole without “holing” out (completely hitting the ball inside the hole) the previous one. (Rule 3-2)

• “Refusal to comply with a rule affecting another player's rights during the game” (Rule 3-4)

Theme of the Rule Book
All in all, the golf rule book is based on the following principle:

Play the ball as it lies, play the course as you find it, and if you cannot do either, do what is fair.

Golf Jargon Explained
The following is a list of some technical terms in golf and their meanings:

Bogey: ‘Bogey’ initially signified a perfect game but now it means a hole played one stroke over par.

Birdie: Birdie simply means a hole played in one stroke under par.

Eagle: Originating from ‘Birdie’, Eagle denotes a hole played in two strokes under par.

Mulligan: A replay of a shot (not allowed by rules)

Fore: A loud verbal warning when it is suspected that the ball may hit someone!

‘Strict Rules of Golf’
While we are talking about the Rule Book and golfing etiquette, it is good to discuss what constitutes the ‘strict rules of golf’. This phrase has been made popular by Goldfinger (1964), where Sean Connery playing Bond wins a classic match against the antagonist, Goldfinger.

Strict rules, in simple terms, would mean going by the book, even when you are playing a casual game. In particular, the movie references the ‘5 minute rule’ when the ball is lost in the rough, and Bond states that crossing this time limit will cause Goldfinger to lose both stroke and distance.

According to USG rules, a ball is considered ‘lost’ when ‘It is not found or identified as his by the player within five minutes after the player’s side or his caddies have begun to search for it’.

If the ball is not found within 5 minutes as a result of not being found or identified as his by the player within five minutes after the player’s side or his caddies have begun to search for it, the player must play a ball, under penalty of one stroke, as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played (see Rule 20-5).

Even though agreeing to play by strict rules, Goldfinger, with the help of his caddy, goes on to break a few rules, which has obvious villainous connotations. He switches the lost ball to avoid the penalty, and plays the 18th hole first without having honor. Honor refers to the order of players, but it is more etiquette than a rule and there are no penalties involved.

However, in the end, it is revealed that Bond himself allowed Goldfinger to switch the ball. Because of not playing the original ball (Slazenger 1), Goldfinger lost the match even after scoring the 18th hole!

“We are playing strict rules, so I’m afraid you lose the hole and the match.” - James Bond

The Course
As explained during the introduction, a common golf course includes 18 holes. The first shot for each hole is played from the teeing area that contains a ball placed on a peg. The rest of the hole is played on the rough (long grass) or fairway (closely-mown extension of grass) that leads to the green, i.e. the place where the hole is located.)

There are several hazards on the course as well. A hazard in golf means an obstacle in the course which makes playing a hole very difficult. Hazards can be of 3 types:

Bunkers: These are depressions near the fairway of green, usually filled with sand. Different types of bunkers are “waste bunkers”, “greenside bunkers”, and “fairway bunkers”.

Streams: Water hazards include streams and ponds located between the tee and the hole to add challenge to the game and enhance the aesthetics of the golf course.

Natural Hazards: These include factors like dense vegetation.

Etiquette of The Game
"In golf, the customs and etiquette and decorum are as important as the rules of play." (Bobby Jones, legendary amateur golfer)

Along with the golf rules, the USGA/R&A ‘Rules of Gold’ also includes instructions on gaming etiquette. Golfers are expected to oblige by these principles to make the game safe, fair, and enjoyable for all the participants, but a violation may not necessarily lead to a penalty. Examples of golfing etiquette include:
• Not talking while another player is playing a swing
• Not walking on the line of your putt on the green
• Replacing divots
• Repairing pitch marks
• Raking bunkers

However, in a serious infraction of the etiquette, players can be disqualified under Rule 33-7. Such instances include:
• Damaging the course
• Damaging other players’ equipment
• Injuring other players
• Distracting other players
• Taking a long time to a play shot to deliberately hold up the game
• Trying to gain unfair advantage

That’s about it! This presentation was meant to serve as a guide for beginner golfers. The tip that we want you to leave with is to understand everything mentioned in this guide, and also what you have learned from experienced players personally.

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