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Dublin: 10°C Sunday 16 May 2021

'New rules will drag golf kicking and screaming into the 21st century'

Golf’s rulemakers are doing the right thing trying to modernise the game.

Under the proposed changes, golfers won't have to spend 10 minutes doing this.
Under the proposed changes, golfers won't have to spend 10 minutes doing this.
Image: Rogelio V. Solis/AP/Press Association Images


THEY’RE NOT AROUND quite as long as the Ten Commandments but the Rules of Golf (always capitalised) have been given similar reverential treatment for centuries.

But much like how only three or four of the Ten Commandments are still relevant in a modern, secular, society — mostly the crime ones – many of the Rules of Golf do more to hold the game back than endear it to a new generation.

And, to be fair to them, golf’s rulemakers have responded, and this week proposed more than 100 changes to the existing rules and sub-rules.

Even more dramatically, the R&A and USGA have proposed that the number of core rules be reduced from 34 all the way down to 24. That’s basically god telling you Sunday’s are grand to work on and make all the graven images you want.

The new changes are not set in stone (sorry) and for the moment remain just proposals, but the great thing about them is that everyone from Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy to Saturday hackers like you and I are being invited to have our say on them.

“We are genuinely interested in hearing from golfers around the world,” said Thomas Pagel, senior director of Rules & Amateur Status for the USGA, this week. “We want to know what the public has to say.”

Source: Andrew Woodworth/YouTube

On top of significant proposals such as removing the one stroke penalty for a player accidentally moving “his or her ball or ball-marker on the putting green” or removing the need to drop the ball from shoulder height when taking relief, the changes are also designed to drag golf kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

While the rest of us got here 17 long years ago, the governing bodies’ move to join us includes a plan to publish a new Player’s Edition of the Rules of Golf that removes references to “the player” and instead addresses readers as “you.”

All of these moves are designed to simply golf and speed it up both for players and spectators.

Will it work? The proof will be in the putting so to speak.

Tee shorts

Here are the Irish players in action over the next few days:

PGA Tour – World Golf Championships-Mexico* 

  • Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Hideki Matsuyama – 5.36pm

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European Tour – Tshwane Open, Pretoria

  • Jean Hugo, Dylan Frittelli, Darren Clarke – 6.20am
  • Nino Bertasio, Paul Dunne, Christiaan Basson – 10.50

*All tee-times are Irish

Sky Sports have coverage of the World Golf Championships-Mexico from 7pm on Thursday and Friday and 6pm Saturday and Sunday.

Back spin

25 years ago this week, a young lad by the name of Tiger Woods made his PGA Tour debut. I wonder what ever happened to him?

Sign your card

A win for Dustin Johnson at the World Golf Championships-Mexico would solidify his position as the world number one and, after finding his putting stroke of late, it’s little surprise he leads the betting at 13/2.

Rickie Fowler won the Honda Classic last week but his final round — not to mention coming home bogey, bogey — wouldn’t exactly inspire confidence in the American going back-t0-back though he is available at 20/1.

Golf SA Open Rory McIlroy is back in action this week. Source: Kamran Jebreili/AP/Press Association Images

Between Trump and his injury, it’s easy to forget that Rory finished last season and started this one quite strongly but, given his long lay-off, 12/1 seems a bit short for the former world number one.

While it’s difficult to look past DJ for your winner, don’t discount Francesco Molinari. The Italian has finished in the top-15 in seven of his last eight events, has the game for the set-up this week and is available at 66/1.

The 19th

Speaking of DJ, here’s how he and Paulina Gretzky announced the sex of their second child:

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About the author:

Steve O'Rourke

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