Every other January, the United States Golf Association revises The Rules of Golf. I would like to add my own set of rules for our game.
According to recent statistics from the National Golf Foundation, our game is not growing as we had hoped. In fact, we are seeing more golfers leaving the game than coming to it. With my new rules I hope to stop this downward spiral and make our game more appealing to the masses.
Golf is the only major sport where the highest score does not win. I believe that to be competitive with our other favorite sports we need to adjust our scoring methods. We need higher scores, not lower. We Americans seem to despise low scores. For instance, take a look at how popular soccer is here. I rest my case.
My new rules for golf will get rid of our traditional system of counting the number of times we hit the ball and adding strokes to that when we do something wrong. With my rules, the highest score wins! You'll still need to count strokes, but only points awarded for playing the hole will be counted.
If you arrive at the course at least 30 minutes before your scheduled tee time, give yourself a point. If you hit a few balls or practice a putt or two before heading to the first tee, you get a bonus point. Arrive at the first tee with more than 5 minutes to spare before you're scheduled to tee off and you've earned another point.
You haven't even hit your first tee shot and you have the potential to be three points ahead of your lazy partners. Nothing beats a reward for being punctual.
When it's your turn to take the tee, if you already have your club selected, and a ball and tee in hand, give yourself another point. I love ready golf!
If you do not tee your ball up in front of the tee markers, you're entitled to a point. Take fewer than two practice swings and you'll be rewarded yet another.
If your drive lands in the fairway, you get a point. Longest drive in the fairway in your group gets you a bonus point. If you hit the green in regulation, that's another two points. Miss, but get on in few enough strokes to have a putt for par, and you've earned a point.
Of course, there have to be penalties for those bad shots. With my rules, instead of adding strokes, you simply subtract points. Hit a ball out-of-bounds- and you simply place the ball where it went out, and subtract a point. You may even get that point back with a great recovery and a putt for par.
A ball hit into a water hazard earns no point penalty. Why? Because you just lost that expensive ball. That is penalty enough!
We've all had those times when our best drive landed in a divot that some idiot ahead of us didn't bother to sand or repair. Not an easy shot and pretty crummy luck. With my rules, if you advance the ball to within 20 yards of the green from that lie, you get a bonus point. Hit the green with the shot, and you get another!
Now to make sure that no one else gets those bonus points, golfers will be happy to fill in their divots. The same goes on the green when putting over ball marks. If you have a ball mark in your way and your ball hits it and still goes in, you've earned a bonus point. Again, you'll be likely to fix more than one of those nasty scars just to keep anyone else from picking up that same bonus.
We all hate bunker shots. How many times have you taken two or three to get the ball out of one of them? With my new rules, you get a bonus point for every sand save. This should encourage you to practice those shots and work on that short game a little. Anyone seen leaving the bunker and NOT raking it, will lose a point from his or her score. Those things are tough enough already.
At the end of the day, you'll find yourself adding points and winding up with a score that resembles a triple-overtime NBA All Star game score. That should make everyone happy.
Now go apply my new rules, or even make a few up yourself and see if we can better enjoy our great game and bring a few more new golfers along for the ride. Just remember to put fresh batteries in your calculator.
James Stammer has been an avid golfer and golf enthusiast for nearly 40 years. He hosts the Thursday Night Golf Show on WSTU 1450-AM. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.