It’s Christmas Eve, and Thomas “Slice” Duffer sits by the fireplace in his favorite chair, sipping egg nog and longing for the spring golf season. He scrawls a final line on a note pad, inserts the sheet of paper into an envelope, and places it on the fireplace mantel next to the milk and cookies his young daughter has left for Santa.
“What’s that?” asks his wife Betsy. “It’s my Christmas wish list,” replies Slice. “Aren’t you a bit old for making lists for Santa?” asks Betsy with a smile. “It’s not for Santa,” replies Slice. “It’s for the USGA.” “Don’t you have enough USGA golf shirts and hats?” frowns Betsy. “I’m not asking for merchandise,” explains Slice. “This is my Golf Rules Changes Wish List. My golf buddies and I at the muni course have long felt that some rules changes could make the game easier, more enjoyable, and faster, which is what the USGA says it wants to do. So I’m sending them a list.”
“I’d like to see this,” says Betsy, opening the envelope.
Golf Rules Changes – Wish List
1. Abolish the stroke-and-distance rule for lost balls and balls hit out of bounds. Drop ball approximately where it crossed out of bounds line or entered woods with 1-stroke penalty. (This change simply conforms to common practice and will speed play. You would risk bodily injury returning to the tee on a muni course, and most muni golfers think a “provisional ball” is an extra ball carried in your pocket to use as a mulligan.)
2. Allow preferred lies in fairways. (On the rare occasion my tee shot finds the fairway, I deserve a decent lie, and shouldn’t have to hit out of divots or off bare lies. Our courses don’t look like Pebble Beach or The Country Club.)
3. Permit movement of loose impediments in bunkers. (No one has ever been assessed a penalty for touching a leaf on his backswing on a muni course. Plus, it’s hard enough to play a sand shot without having to deal with pine cones, acorns, twigs, and beer cans abutting your ball.)
4. Modify unplayable ball rule to permit dropping behind bunker with 1-stroke penalty. (I’d like to see some of the USGA guys try to play an explosion shot out of the rock-hard sand we have to deal with.)
5. Abolish the penalty for ball moving after address. (I’ll suffer the consequences of my bad shots, but at least let me hit the ball.)
6. Do not ban long or belly putters. (Note to USGA executive director Mike Davis: if you played enough muni golf, you’d realize that there is no “traditional concept of the stroke.” Also, don’t you think the horse has left the barn far too long here?)
7. Legalize the Polara golf ball that corrects slices. (This game is hard enough. We’ll be playing them anyway.)
8. Any shot striking beer cart entitles golfer to replay shot and receive a complimentary beer.
“So, what do you think?” asks Slice. “I think all of your buddies will be aiming at the beer cart,” replies Betsy.
Jack Ross completed an intensive PGA/USGA rules workshop and has officiated at state amateur competitions.