Earlier this year we learned that the USGA and the R & A are proposing a sweeping change in the Rules of Golf. Starting, I believe, in 2019, the current 34 Rules would be reduced to 24. I don’t claim that my poem (below) published in my eBook, If Only I Could Play That Hole Again (2013) had any influence on the decision. But I thought the poem was worth reprinting. I am particularly happy with what I wrote in the last stanza.
THE RULES OF GOLF
The Rules of Golf are not to be broken;
Nevertheless, sometimes they are,
By Pros who should know when to invoke them,
Even when they are close to bizarre.
There are Rules for playing the ball as it lies,
And Rules that relate to the putting green,
Rules for a ball, moved, deflected or stopped,
And others related to “lift, place and clean.”
The Rule Book’s first subject, Etiquette,
Says bunker raking should be in your plans,
But that brings up a delicate subject:
What if no rake and the prints made by fans?
Remember that towel? An unneeded addition,
Placed on the ground somewhat in advance
Of a shot hit from a kneeling position,
For which Stadler got caught for “building a stance.”
And what of the famous scorecard debacle,
When De Vicenzo got himself in a jam.
Caught up in the moment, he missed the error,
His quote when informed, “What a stupid I am . . .”
After Inkster, call it the doughnut rule,
Which has nothing to do with bringing ’em.
But if you’re a Pro, waiting out a delay,
Better refrain from swinging ’em!
“Local” rules may also exist.
Just like the rest, they couldn’t be clearer,
Except when the Pros fail to peruse them,
Because they are posted on some bathroom mirror.
Surely the Pros know the rules in the Rule Book
Still they get DQ’ed for the craziest things.
Remember poor Furyk, late for a Pro/Am
When his cell phone alarm logged zero rings!
Penalties are sometimes imposed by officials,
Walking along and right on the scene.
But now they are aided by enterprising viewers,
Vigilantes with Rule Books watching the screen.
Has all this complexity made the game better?
Maybe the Rules need some serious rethinking.
In the early days, thirteen were plenty,
A judicious review might lead to some shrinking!
Leon S White, PhD
[The incident referred to in the third stanza (previously cited in an earlier Clerihew) was where in the 2010 PGA Championship Dustin Johnson was penalized for grounding his club in a bunker that did not appear to be a bunker. In the sixth stanza, Julie Inkster was disqualified for swinging a club weighted with a donut while waiting on a tee because of slow play ahead of her.]