Mondays With Mike Bradshaw: Rules Official is Not Out to “Get You”

Twenty-four rules, Hundreds of interpretations–for a game that’s supposed to be simple.  So a few weeks ago when I told you to try to make the game simple, I obviously could not refer to the Rules in the same vein.

Mike Bradshaw PHOTO: PGA of America

As a member of the PGA of America National Rules Committee, I’ve seen some weird things on the golf course officiating over the past few years.  And while there are a number of “easy rules”, even the most simple of Rules can throw the most experienced Rules official a curveball in the blink of an eye. 

That’s why any rules official will tell you that every time the phone rings or you hear the crackle of the radio, you grab a Rule Book (or phone now that is available digitally).  

“Pro, what happens if…” is the beginning of the gathering of information on my end of the call.  Where, What, and How (and sometimes Who) are huge questions when deciding what Rule to apply and how to apply it.  

But, as a player, remember that the Rules are currently designed to assist the player.  And, in stroke play competitions, you ALWAYS have the option to play two balls if you aren’t sure of how to proceed.   

Simply announce to your fellow competitors which ball you would like to count for scoring if played in a legal manner (Rule 20.1c(3)). 

In match play, since it is a head-to-head competition, you do have to settle any issues immediately.  

It’s a little nerve-racking and confusing for the player when a potential rules issue comes up–I get it and have been on the other side of the “fence” a few times in events in the past.  Just remember one thing (and hopefully it helps your nerves)–the official is not out to “get you.” 

Golf is a game of traditions and history–the Rules are in place to help maintain those and help the players as they try to do the same….

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