Golf: Try Figuring Out These 5 Confusing USGA Rules

Ron FurlongAnalyst IIMarch 9, 2011

Golf: Try Figuring Out These 5 Confusing USGA Rules

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    Rules. Nobody likes them, but we need them. Sports, in particular, are defined by rules. Without rules, sports would have little to no appeal for anyone.

    As far as the amount of rules any particular sport has, it would be challenging to find a sport that comes close to the number of rules that govern the game of golf.

    Every year the United States Golf Association (USGA) comes out with the newest edition of the Official Rules of Golf, in conjunction with the Royal and Ancient Golf Club in the U.K.

    Most of these rules are simple and full of good old common sense. However, there are some that are not quite so simple. A number of these rules are downright confusing. Often, it is not so much the rule that confuses us, but the way it has been worded.

    While looking through the latest edition of the rules, here are five that baffled me the most.

    The fact that I'm easily confused should have no bearing on this article...

    Enjoy the confusion!

Rule 25-1 Abnormal Ground Conditons (a. Interference)

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    Interference by an abnormal ground condition occurs when a ball lies in or touches the condition or when the condition interferes with the player's stance or the area of his intended swing. If the player's ball lies on the putting green, interference also occurs.

    Translation: Um, just move away from whatever the heck it is and swing away.

Rule 19. Ball in Motion Deflected or Stopped (19-1 by Outside Agency)

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    a. If a player's ball in motion after a stroke other than on the putting green comes to rest in or on any moving or animate outside agency, the ball must through the green or in a hazard be dropped, or on the putting green be placed, as near as possible to the spot directly under the place where the ball came to rest in or on the outside agency, but not nearer the hole, and

    b. If a player's ball in motion after a stroke on the putting green is deflected or stopped by, or comes to rest in or on, any moving or animate outside agency,except a worm, insect of the like, the stroke is canceled. The ball must be replaced and replayed.

    My Translation: If a dog picks up your ball whack him on the rump, get your ball back and put it where it was.

Rule 13-2. Improving Lie. Area of Intended Stance or Swing, or Line of Play

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    A player must not improve or allow to be improved the position or like of his ball, the area of his intended stance or swing, his line of play or a reasonable extension of that line beyond the hole, or the area in which he is to drop or place the ball, by any of the following action: pressing a club on the ground, moving, bending or breaking anything growing or fixed (including immovable obstructions and objects defining out of bounds), creating or elimination the irregularities of surface, removing or pressing down sand, loose soil, replaced divots or other cut turf placed in position, or removing dew, frost or water...

    (This one actually goes on a bit, but I couldn't take it anymore)


    My Translation: Try not to cheat.

Rule 18-6. Ball Moved in Measuring

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    If a ball or ball-marker is moved in measuring while proceeding under or in determining the application of a Rule, the ball or ball-marker must be replaced. There is no penalty, provided the movement of the ball or ball-marker is directly attributable to the specific act of measuring. Otherwise, the provisions of Rule 18-2a., 18-3b., or 18-4 apply.


    My translation: Put your ball back where it was.

Rule 8-2. Indication Line of Play (a. Other Than on Putting Green)

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    Except on the putting green, a player may have the line of play indicated to him by anyone, but no one may be positioned by the player on or close to the line or an extension of the line beyond the hole while the stroke is being made. Any mark placed by the player or with his knowledge to indicate the line must be removed before the stroke is made.


    My Translation: Uncle Jim can't stand behind the flag stick while you're hitting into the green.