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Golf rules: It's best to keep your hands off the ball
24 Feb 2012
Charles Severn

IT is a standing recommendation of the ruling bodies of golf, the Royal and Ancient and the USGA, that the ball should be played as it lies. After all, isn’t this how golf is supposed to be played? Well you wouldn’t think so in South Africa.

It is really puzzling as to why so many golf clubs in this country permit placing by hand on closely mown areas when it simply isn’t necessary.

Representatives of the Royal and Ancient visited South Africa in late 2010 and they expressed surprise at the number of courses that allow placing the ball. Therefore, one of their main recommendations to the South African Golf Association was to limit, if not eradicate, the placing the ball on fairways.

During winter months the ball lies tight on the fairways, so placing by hand becomes a local rule. But when summer arrives the fairways are lush and the ball is lying perfectly, the placing rule doesn’t get withdrawn. The R & A say this is wrong. If the ball is tight on the fairway, so what, it’s the same for everyone.

In addition, a golfer often takes an unnecessary amount of time in meticulously looking for an ideal place to position his ball. Multiply the number of players in the field by the number of times the ball is placed and it will add up to a lot of time wasted.

Then there are times when a player’s marker is called across a fairway to give the player a ruling on whether the ball is in the rough or on the fairway.

One way of easing members into the idea of not placing is to allow an optional drop if the ball is not lying to the player’s satisfaction on the fairway. If a ball lies in an old divot, make a local rule where a free drop is permitted.

So guys, when you decide whether or not to place, do the right thing, play the game properly and stop touching the ball on the fairway.

From the 19th hole:

Three old golfers, Sam, Harry and Fred, were sitting together after their weekly game of golf. These are some of the things they were overheard saying.

Sam said: “You know you’re getting old when you stoop to tie your shoes and wonder what else you can do while you’re down there.”

Harry said: “There are three stages of man, You believe in Santa Claus, you don’t believe in Santa Claus and you are Santa Claus.”

Fred said: “I hate being old. First you forget names; then you forget faces. Next you forget to pull your zip up and finally you forget to pull it down.”

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