Today's golf lifestyle piece looks at just how we sometimes relax the rules of golf when we're amongst friends. Like any professional sport, the rules of golf are put in place for a very good reason; without them, players are free to do whatever it takes to gain victory, by fair means or foul. The honour principle within golf is upheld more strongly than in almost all other popular sports, but when playing a round with a close group of friends, the rules are often adhered to more leniently.
Relaxing The Rules
Have you ever played a game of Monopoly with people for the first time? Despite the fact the board game comes with its own clearly defined set of rules, Mums, Dads, Grandparents, siblings and friends have been adapting and adding their own unique spin to the game since its release. Countless Christmas Day’s have been spoilt over arguments over the true point of ‘Free Parking’ or whether you get £500 for landing exactly on the ‘Go’ space. The same is true with golf. Obviously, the core rules that shape the game itself cannot be changed, but smaller, less significant things can. Rather than an overhaul of golf’s traditions it is more a relaxation of some of the rules only adhered to by the professionals.
The Famous Mulligan
For those who don’t know, a Mulligan is a stroke that is replayed from the spot of the previous stroke, without penalty due to a lost ball, or just generally terrible shot. Obviously this is strictly forbidden in competition play, but amongst friends in a more relaxed atmosphere this is a brilliant way to keep up the pace of a game, and in some cases even add a new dimension. Several charity tournaments have started auctioning Mulligans to the highest bidder, essentially allowing them a ‘Get Out Of Jail Free’ card for when they shank a ball way off course. Concessions can be made for specific circumstances, the ‘Hangover Mulligan’ for example, for if you and your friends have been out the night before!
Again, a Gimme Putt is strictly forbidden in competition play, but is another useful tool to speed up game play. Although thought differs on the allowance of a Gimme Putt, it is generally considered that once the ball is within two feet of the hole, it can be considered as putted. It can help relieve the pressure of those just playing a casual round of golf for fun, although could prove to be a problem for those who take their game very seriously. That’s why, as with all of the relaxation of competition rules, they must be decided and agreed upon well in advance of play.
It is only with close friends who you have known and played with previously that you can start to relax the rules of golf. There are always people who will bend the rules to try and steal a lead in any sport, especially when there is something at stake. But never forget the values that make a great golfer, as echoed by your ETIQUS timepiece: show consideration for others, take care of the course and play at a good pace.