If you have seen the official rule book for the game of golf, it will give you pause. Page after page of obscure situations are covered. If you know all the rules of this wonderful game I'm impressed. However, it may be that the laws of golf are much more significant for us average duffers. Perhaps we can call them unwritten rules instead of laws, but see if these things have not happened to you.
LAW #1. If there's a storm rolling in, you'll be having the game of your life.
I'll bet you have had this situation. A great score working and Mother Nature decides you have had enough for the day. I had something similar happen to me in my league just last week.
We debated whether to even start the round, but one of my opponents used the word dissipating to describe the blobs we were looking at on the radar screen in the clubhouse. So off to the 10th tee we went at Loudon Meadows. I don't think my heart was into the tee shot as I shanked a ball well to the right. From a poor lie, I muscled a 7-wood to the left side of the fairway, but am still 180 yards from the green with a big tree in my flight path.
I decided to go for it with my trusty 7-wood and pulled off one of my best shots ever. It not only cleared the tree, it landed on the green. It not only landed on the green, it stayed on the green. It not only stayed on the green, it nestled some 8 feet from the pin. If you have played this hole, you know how hard it is to keep even a short iron on the putting surface.
By the time we reached the green, the skies opened up and the horn sounded from the clubhouse. The round was over, the shot wasted. Oh well, one shot does not a round make. Maybe it was good that the round was washed out as the rest of the nine could have been awful. Hey, I have seen me golf!
LAW # 2. The shortest distance between any two points on a golf course is a straight line that passes directly through the center of a very large tree.
Isn't it amazing how often you find yourself behind a big tree? It could be the only tree on a particular hole and your ball rolls to a spot directly behind the thing. Herefs a suggestion for you. Take your medicine and pitch the ball back into the fairway. Have you ever seen someone who thought they could get by the tree with a mighty swing only to hit the tree then themselves with the golf ball. It is not a pretty sight.
LAW# 3. You can hit a 2-acre fairway 10 percent of the time, and a 2-inch branch 90 percent of the time.
The old adage that a tree is 90 percent air is hogwash. We have all caught that last little branch only to see the ball drop harmlessly to the ground. Invariably the shot was killed. If it hadn't struck the offending branch it would have been destined for greatness. At least that's the way the story gets told, doesn't it?
LAW# 4. It's a simple matter to keep your ball in the fairway if you're not choosy about which fairway.
Been there, done that, haven't you? The ball takes off sometimes in a direction that just makes you shake your head. I hit one so far off line in Tennessee once that my playing companion suggested it was a TFFA ball.
"What does that mean?" I asked.
Two freaking fairways away was the response. In my humble opinion, being in the short grass is no particular bargain if you are still 8,000 yards from the hole!
LAW# 5. If you want to hit a 7-iron as far as Tiger Woods does, simply try to use it to lay up just short of a water hazard.
The worst feeling in golf. You have a choice to make. Hit that perfect shot and clear the water or play safe and lay up. You do the prudent thing and hit the short iron, but you flush it. Literally. The ball flies and reaches the drink. You mutter something like "might as well have gone for it" with a few salty words thrown in for good measure. Chances are good that your game will be messed up for the next couple of holes as you can't get the bad taste out of your mouth.
LAW# 6. Since bad shots come in groups of three, your fourth consecutive bad shot is really the beginning of the next group of three.
Seriously, how many bad shots can one string together in a round of golf? You might be surprised at the answer!
LAW#7. It's surprisingly easy to hole a 50-foot putt when you're lying 8.
Why do the golf gods do this to us? If you have a great round going, that putt will come up 20 feet short. It might even take three more to get in the hole from there. But take forever to get to the green and those long devils will find the bottom of the cup all the time. If it means nothing, it will go in ? it's the law!
LAW#8. There are two things you can learn by stopping you back swing at the top and checking the position of your hands: how many hands you have, and which one is wearing the glove.
I have actually done this, well stopping my swing and looking up. I had no idea what I was looking for, but did it anyway. Pros do it, so I did it. Made me feel like I was important!
LAW#9. Nonchalant putts count the same as chalant putts.
I have no idea what that means, but I thought it was funny.
So these are just a few of the laws of golf. They cannot be changed, it's the law.
Al Stephenson is the golf columnist for The Advertiser-Tribune.
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