New Golf Rules!

Mike Moffett

 by Mike Moffett
Weirs Times Columnist

The annual Masters Golf Tournament—my favorite sports event of the year—is only a month away. The flags are going up at Loudon Country Cub—my favorite golf course. So it’s a good time to reflect on long-overdue golf rule changes recently promulgated by the U.S. Golf Association.
Most people I play with follow a very liberal interpretation of golf rules, i.e. if you can’t find a ball on a leafy autumn fairway, then just drop a ball where you think your ball ended up. No problemo! Or any two-foot putt is a “Gimme!”
Of course, in league and tournament competitions, one really needs to know and follow the rules, especially if your opponent is one of those dreaded “sticklers.”
Still, not only do the new and overdue USGA rule changes make sense but there are actually FEWER rules now. (Washington and Concord take note!)

Horton Smith won the first Masters Golf Tournament in 1934.

For example:
*There is no longer a penalty for accidentally moving your ball on the green. (I hate it when that happens!)
*You can repair damage on the green before putting. (My balls always seemed to end up behind an unrepaired hole on every green.)
*A ball is declared lost after a three minute search, as opposed to five minutes. (This rule change will really speed up play with some of the guys I play with.)
*Under the new rules, you can do a ball drop from as close as one inch above the ground, as opposed to shoulder height. (Bravo! This will cut down on my ball drops rolling into water hazards.)
*If you throw your putter and damage it, you can still keep it in your bag. (I’d been carrying two putters anyway. Hope that’s not against any rule.)
* Now you can putt with the flagstick in the hole. (That will probably save me a stroke a round!)
*You can now ground your club in a bunker or a hazard. (A great improvement. I always avoided this but often played with people who DID ground their clubs, intentionally or not. I never called anyone on it for fear of being called a jerk. But no worries now!)
The USGA has invited more input for even more rule improvements. I’d like to suggest that a golfer should get an automatic mulligan when a jerk coughs loudly on purpose during a backswing on any tee.
And how about sanctioning “Gimmees?”
Anything within 3 feet!

Sports Quiz
What is the longest golf hole in the world? (Answer follows)

Born Today …
That is to say, sports standouts born on March 9 include long-time Oakland A’s shortstop Bert Campaneris (1942) and standout MLN catcher 1965 Benito Santiago (1965).

“All I remember about my wedding day in 1967 is that the Cubs lost a doubleheader”— George F. Will

Sportsquiz Answer
The longest golf hole in the world is the 900 yard 7th hole (par 7) of the Sano Course at the Satsuki Golf Club in Japan.

Michael Moffett was a Professor of Sports Management for Plymouth State University and NHTI-Concord. He co-authored the critically-acclaimed and award-winning “FAHIM SPEAKS: A Warrior-Actor’s Odyssey from Afghanistan to Hollywood and Back” (with the Marines)—which is available through His e-mail address is