Do the Rules of Golf need an update ?

Carl Pettersson

Carl Pettersson/getty images

During the PGA Championship Carl Pettersson incurred a two shot penalty when his club brushed aside a loose impediment, a leaf, while he was trying to extricate himself from a hazard. Carl had an official with him at the time, and asked the man if it was OK if his club brushed against the grass during the backswing. The official said yes, it was OK to brush the grass on the back-swing of the stroke, and he was correct in what he said, he just never mentioned the possibility of moving the leaves, and it would have been inappropriate of him to advise Carl. That is another rule concerning giving advice. Obviously Carl was not a happy camper;

 “I double checked with the official to make sure I could brush the grass as long as I didn’t put any weight on the ground with the clubhead, and he said sure, I wish he would have mentioned the leaves, too. I was just trying to hit the ball. I didn’t even think twice about it.”

Not being able to remove loose impediments in a hazard is a good rule, remember Tiger Woods at the PGA Tour event held at TPC Scottsdale, Stadium Course. Tiger was playing the par-five 13th hole, his tee shot to the left of the fairway, well in-bounds but in the desert. His ball came to rest near a boulder that would interfere with his swing toward the green. The boulder was deemed to be a loose impediment so Tiger had a group of adoring fans ” roll the stone away” so that he had a clear shot to the green. Tiger went on to birdie the hole, but if the ball had been in an area that was a classed as a hazard he would not have been allowed to move the boulder. The point is, Carl was in a hazard and if he was faced with a boulder, or dead tree trunk or any loose impediment he would not have been allowed to move it. Neither should he be allowed, he should not have been in the hazard in the first place, that’s the penalty.

I do not agree that players are allowed to consult the officials about what is right or wrong, the player and his caddie should know all the rules. The officials should just be there to referee the match and make calls about the rules, not explain the rules chapter and verse to someone who should know them.

Talking about stupid rules, what about the temporary rule the PGA made about there being no bunkers on the course. Pete Dye designed the course with lots of well positioned bunkers in play, what a bad decision it was to nullify the effect of these hazards.

I have never before seen anybody raking a sandy area, it does not happen out on the course, so why should they rake green side sandy area’s. Does that not incur another penalty for improving the lie ? just another rule in the book.