One of golf’s greatest gift to young kids learning to play can be found in the lesson of integrity and truthfulness. Golf teaches kids to score what you shot and not to cheat. Those who lie about scores expose themselves later on the course and lose their credibility. Sometimes though a little cheating can go a long way to becoming better at golf.The rules of golf dictate how we not only play the game but treat other golfers and dictate the ritual aspects of the golf. The USGA maintains the rules of golf so that every golfers plays the same game.
But what if we ignored the USGA for a little bit. Every causal golfers bends the rules from time to time. Foot wedges. Drops instead of stroke & distance. Ready golf. I am recommending we ignore the rules openly so that the stress of the game is removed so we can improve and then we re-establish the rules when we are ready. This is the reverse of martial law.
1. Do Not Score
Play for the swing not the score. Too many times, the scorecard dictates how well the day went. Do not take a scorecard onto the course. Throw it from the golf cart. You focus on each shot itself with no weight to any score. This will feel weird but you are trying to find the joy of the swing instead of the agony of triple bogey.
2. Drop Ball Where it Went Out
Forget about stroke and distance. Figure out why the shot went errant instead of hitting another all into oblivion. I once hit three drives with perfect slice to the exact three-foot radius out-of-bounds. If you are slicing on the 6th tee, there is a slim chance you will cure it in the next 12 holes. Make a note for your next driving range session or set up a lesson in their parking lot.
3. Two Putt Maximum
The phrase “three putt” puts golfers in funks faster than finding no milk for your Frosted Flakes on Saturday morning. Often undo pressure is put on the second put, that players miss it for no good reason but their own nerves. Make one good putt for the hole and then run the second as close as possible. If it falls, good. If not, no worries. You will be surprised on how many you end up sinking. Take this feeling to a “real” round and enjoy the freedom.
4. Improve Your Lie
Play winter rules through the spring, summer, or fall. Put yourself in the best situation for success by pulling your ball out of a divot. If hitting out of a divot or uneven rough gets your mind wrapped up, pull your ball to even ground.
5. Know When to Stop Cheating
If you start cheating on the first hole, keep cheating. If you find yourself a record-breaking day, just ride that wave. Scoring from the middle of the day will not be true and you may find pressure sneaking in and you change gears. Enjoy the day and see what you can learn. Have fun then and try shots you would not usually hit because there are no consequences.
When you find yourself feeling good, restore law and order and embrace all the rules of the game again.
If you are going to ignore rules on your next round, let your fellow players know your intentions. You might find some others join you in a bit of lawless fun on the course.
What USGA rule do you bend or break on a regular basis?