2019 Rules of Golf: Part 2

Welcome to GRFS’s 2nd installment of the 2019 Rules of Golf changes.  If you missed last month’s Executive Summary, here’s a link to it. 

In this month’s blog, we’ll examine Rule 1 The Game, Player Conduct and the Rules, as well as Rule 13 Putting Greens

 

Rule 1 is the essence of golf and sets the tone for everything else that follows.  The central principles of golf are:

a) You normally play the course as you find it and your ball as it lies;

b) Play by the Rules and the spirit of the game; and

c) You are responsible for applying your own penalties. 

 

We’ll see in subsequent Rules that playing the course as you find it and where your ball lies are not always practical.  This makes knowing the Rules to your advantage because sometimes they’re helpful, not penal.  The last principle of applying your own penalties makes golf unique to any other sport.  Can you imagine football or basketball players calling their own penalties and fouls?  In those sports, players try to bend the rules as far as possible without getting caught. 

While golf is a game for ladies and gentlemen, there are times when Player Conduct needs some boundaries.  This includes being honest about the rules and your score; showing consideration to others by playing promptly and safely; and taking good care of the course. 

This section of Rule 1 allows the Committee conducting the tournament to establish a Code of Conduct.  We’ve already seen Sergio Garcia run afoul of this with his tantrum in a bunker and his deliberate damage to putting greens during a European Tour event in Saudi Arabia.

We’ll see later this year that Pace of Play has a new emphasis....could a shot clock be far behind on the Tour?  Let’s hope!

Financial Advisors share similar principles to the Rules of Golf.  We operate by a Code of Conduct, particularly Certified Financial Planners.  We are also a self-regulating industry, so we have to know the Rules.  A great deal of training and compliance monitoring assures you that we are acting with integrity in your best interest.

The changes to Putting Greens has garnered a great deal of commentary early this year.  The most notable change is the permission to putt with the flag-stick in the hole.  The intent is to speed up play on long putts when you don’t have caddies or to permit you to hole out when playing by yourself.

Some Tour players have adopted this practice and see an advantage.  Although a putt that’s racing by the hole might go in if it hits the flag-stick squarely, most Tour players don’t misjudge the speed that badly.  I think it’s more of a visual aid and confidence builder.  On the other hand, after putting with it out or attended for years and years, many players are still uncomfortable with it in the hole.  I wonder how the downhillers at Augusta National will be putted?   Perhaps The Masters will be the first to implement a Local Rule that the flag must come out, just for tradition and appearance-sake.

Another change this year is the permission to fix almost anything on the surface of a putting green, including tapping down spike marks.  That would have been more significant when everyone wore metal spikes.  Today’s shoes don’t do nearly as much damage.  So far, we haven’t witnessed an unnecessary level of “gardening” on TV.

Lastly, the “Dustin Johnson Rule” has become permanent.  Remember the U.S. Open when the ball moved on the putting green and the USGA took a long time to penalize him?  Last year, they gave us a Local Rule for accidental movement of the ball or ball marker on the green.  There’s no penalty and the ball must be replaced.  Now, this get-out-of-jail-free card is a permanent part of Rule 13.

The Putting Green, and specifically the hole, are targets or goals.  Much like the goals in your Financial Plan, that’s where you and your advisor are aiming.  At Gettings Reed Financial Services, we’re here to help you successfully plan and reach your goals.