Knowledge of golf rules improves with tournament play

Honesty and integrity. These two nouns describe how each and every one of us should play the game of golf.

Honesty and integrity.

These two nouns describe how each and every one of us should play the game of golf.

Play the game for fun, attempt to play your best each and every time you are on the course, be honest with your play and, of course, if you make a mistake then it is your duty and in fact your responsibility to call yourself on it.

This is golf in a nutshell.

Of course we all play the game for different reasons and not everybody is equipped to play golf by the rules.

Regardless of your knowledge and or experience of the game and therefore the rules of golf, if you compete then it becomes your duty to the best of your ability to abide by the rules of the game.

Tournament play is a testament to this statement. As golfers begin playing in golf tournaments, generally speaking their knowledge of the rules of golf become better. This is true, as simply there is no other way to play.

Within a group of players, we rely on each other to assist us in proceeding properly if a player is unclear or is not familiar with a specific rule.

Of course this happens on occasion during competition and although it is our responsibility to understand and proceed by the rules of golf, clarification of rules is needed in many instances.

As indicated in an earlier article, there is a governing body of golf. This governing body has many responsibilities within the game of golf and one is being active as experts on the rules of golf.

In Alberta, this governing body is called the Alberta Golf Association (AGA). The AGA has many dedicated volunteers that are interested in educating players on the rules of golf.

These dedicated volunteers spend countless hours going to rules seminars, educating themselves on the rules of golf and then acting as rules officials in amateur and professional golf tournaments.

They are the go-to people as to the proper procedure as it applies to rules on the golf course. These individuals have a wealth of information on the rules of golf and are — quite frankly — experts.

I had a call from one of these experts this past week concerned that I had given you the wrong information on the proper procedure to taking relief from a water hazard.

Last week I indicated that you had three options for relief from a water hazard (yellow stakes) and one additional relief option for a lateral water hazard (red stakes). In fact this is incorrect.

Rule 26: Water hazards (including lateral water hazards) indicate that you have two options for relief in a water hazard and an additional two for relief from a lateral water hazard. You do not have the option to take two club lengths from the point the ball last crossed the margin of the hazard and take a drop. You do have this option for taking relief from a lateral hazard, but not a water hazard.

As you can see it is easy to make mistakes when it comes to playing by the rules of golf. Having said that, not everyone can be an expert on the rules that govern play.

When playing competitively, amateur and professional golfers use their knowledge and their playing partners’ knowledge to play by the rules of golf, but in many cases must use the expertise of the trained rules official.

I would like to thank Jack for his expertise and clarification of how to proceed properly when taking relief from a water hazard.

The most challenging part of any golf course is the putting greens. The putting greens are mown so low that they are highly susceptible to the diverse weather conditions that we experience in Alberta.

Regardless of the geological region that we live in, the greens are the most fragile part of the golf course.

Behind the scenes each course has a superintendant and staff who work feverishly to provide their customers with the best possible putting conditions.

Having said this, if you play at more than one golf course throughout the summer, you will notice that they all seem different.

The most noticeable difference is the speed of the greens. t is true that if you tend to play one golf course that the speed of each green will be consistent from hole to hole.

Therefore you become accustomed to this speed and putting on your home golf course will be somewhat consistent.

The challenge is when you travel to a course that you are not familiar with because the speed of their greens may be different from what you are use to.

The question then becomes, how do you make the necessary adjustment early enough in your round to not have the speed of the greens increase your score and therefore affect your overall enjoyment of your round?

The most logical way to become adjusted to any course’s green speed is to spend a few moments prior to teeing off hitting some putts on their practice green. Spending a few moments making a few putts from various distances — ensuring you hit a few up and downhill will certainly give you a feel of how fast or slow the greens are.

This can then be taken out on the course as the practice greens will be consistent with the greens on the golf course.

This of course does not mean that you will putt any better than you did before. The reality of putting is that we need to educate ourselves on the proper technique and then practise countless hours to perfect not only the stroke, but also perfect the art of reading greens.

I spend many hours teaching individuals on improving their putting strokes. Some of these players are new to the game, others are experienced and would consider themselves intermediate golfers, and of course some students are advanced players.

The overwhelming response I get from all level of players is that they have difficulty reading greens.

This seems to be what most players blame when they do not sink their putts.

The fact of the matter is that in most cases, golfers can read the green just fine, and/or have a basic knowledge of which way a ball will break. The actual problem that they experience is not in reading greens, but in fact with their stroke and or their alignment.

If you can not start the ball on the line that you intend, or if you do not align yourself correctly to your intended line then you cannot be consistent at putting.

In the next two articles I shall discuss the actual putting stroke and create a very specific step-by-step process for you to not only assist in reading greens, but become a more consistent putter. These steps will include the grip, stance, ball position, the stroke and, of course, alignment.

I shall also include a few of the most important drills necessary to assist in becoming a consistent putter. Improving your technique and alignment will most certainly assist you in making the necessary speed adjustments to putt better from golf course to golf course. Play well and enjoy your week.

Scott Bergdahl is the teaching pro at Lakewood Golf Resort

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