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Fairway Divots

Revised rules ought to give ground on fairway divots



By John Gordon

During Wednesday’s joint USGA/R&A conference call announcing the proposed “modernized” rules to go into effect Jan. 1, 2019, I asked why a fairway divots can’t be treated as ground under repair. After all, a golfer is being penalized for someone else’s negligence, essentially altering the nature of the course.

In my experience, that is one of the biggest beefs golfers have with the rules.

David Rickman, executive director of governance and chief of staff at the R&A, responded that there were two aspects to the decision not to allow relief from divots.

“Philosophically, one of the general tenets of the game, one of the great principles, is to play the ball as it lies, and I think even the great player Bobby Jones made the good point that you can get some bad outcomes from good shots, and you can get some good outcomes from bad shots.

“If you look at the practical side, we are concerned that while some divots and divot holes are very obvious, as time goes by, the difference between an old divot hole and a general imperfection of the ground can become increasingly difficult.”

With all due respect, that reasoning seems a tad facile. Surely a satisfactory description of a divot could have been added to the extensive list of definitions in the rule book. Combined with the renewed emphasis on player conduct, integrity and “reasonable judgment,” a solution must be achievable. In fact, proposed Rule 1.2a is intended to give “more prominence to the expectation that all players will act with integrity, show consideration to others and take good care of the course,” the USGA and R&A wrote in their overview.

And, because Rickman exhumed Bobby Jones, another much-debated concept that will not be considered going forward is separate sets of rules for professional and recreational golf, also known as bifurcation. This despite the fact that Jones adamantly stated “there is golf and there is tournament golf, and the two bear little resemblance.”

Taken from – http://www.morningread.com


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