Only a couple weeks ago I excitedly popped my member application into the mail to the U.S. Golfing Association.
Tell me you agree: there is nothing like the anticipation attached to mail order, waiting for that parcel to arrive. In this case, the USGA won me over with membership to their organization, and sweetened the deal with their 2015 Chambers Bay Open hat.
But there was more. They also promised an official member card, and a golf bag tag, and… the USGA official book, Rules of Golf.
Today, my package arrived, and I had torn it open by the time I had walked up the driveway.
Up until now, I had viewed the game of golf as an enjoyable diversion: walking the fairway in search of a runaway ball, or flumped on a couch Sunday afternoon, taking vicarious enjoyment and frustration while millionaires bounced shots off spectators onto lush, hand-tweezed greens.
With the Rules of Golf in hand, the sport has new deeper meaning, with profound implications.
It’s much like my driving a car for all my life. Only now to find that our state Rules of the Road, or Driver’s Handbook has 96 pages of rules, none of which I knew.
The USGA book is twice the size.
As a duly accredited and newly admitted USGA member, I opened the Rules of Golf. About the size of the iPhone 6, it has 208 pages, written in 6-point type. It fits in my back pocket, and just like the iPhone 6, it bends easily.
It turns out that there are only 34 rules. Well, 34 subject areas perhaps. Then the lawyers have their say.
But in a moment of merciful brevity, the governors have provided “A Quick Guide to the Rules of Golf”. Kind of like a Cliff Notes. It’s only 7 pages, which you might browse through as you pay your green fees.
In a like-minded spirit of expedition, I am not going to review all the rules with you here, but I would be remiss in not highlighting a few key canons of the game.
For instance, the attention to nuance as noted on page 9: “Understand The Words”. You won’t find this type of consideration in the Drivers’ Handbook.
Or the oblique reference to emotion in the section on Unnecessary Damage, page 21.
And the curious, repetitive references to remnants of manufactured ice which apparently is randomly found across the boundless green of the course. One needs to study the forensics on this phenomenon.
Lastly, as we can expect, the USGA staffers make earnest attempts to define a circumstance for clearer understanding, as shown in the “Nearest Point of Relief”, page 30.
Thanks for reading! In the midwest, the days are getting shorter, and the opportunity to enjoy a walk in temperate climate and sunshine is shrinking. Kudos to USGA and their mission to bring golf to all who would enjoy the sport.
“For The Good Of The Game” is copyright USGA.