In golf, there are a myriad of rules. Some are explicitly stated; some are implicitly applied. Although Untied States Golf Association (USGA) and Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) have worked hard to write their 600-plus-page Decisions on the Rules of Golf, the rulebook is still not comprehensive enough when it comes to different scenarios. But they did give it a shot.
Here are some of my favorite weirdest written rules in golf.
- “You may spit on your clubface before playing a shot to clean it, but not if you’re trying to reduce spin to hit a straighter shot.” DECISION 4-2/4
This rule is pretty goofy when you scrutinize it. Will professional players ever spit on their clubface in front of the audience? More importantly, even if they did, how could someone determine the ulterior motive of their action? Honestly, I doubt that a PGA rule official would look after the act of spitting during a tournament.
- “If your shot ends up in the clubhouse, and the clubhouse is not considered out-of-bounds, you may open a window or door and play your next shot without penalty.” DECISION 24-2b/14
This is just another example of how wacky some of the PGA written rules are. If a tour player hit a golf ball into the clubhouse, the shot must have been at least 50 yards offline. Furthermore, who wants to hit a shot from a concrete, wooden, or ceramic floor (except Phil Mickleson, I guess)? And how about breaking the furniture? Additionally, it would damage the golf clubs and hurt your wrists A LOT if you hit the ground first.
- “If your clubhead falls off during the backswing, and you complete the swing but miss the ball, it doesn’t count as a stroke. But if your clubhead falls off during the downswing, and you complete the swing but miss the ball, it counts as a stroke.” DECISIONS 14/2, 14/3
This rule may seem unrealistic at your first glance, but it did happen before. In the opening round of the 2015 Valero Texas Open, Phil Mickelson broke his 8-iron clubhead at impact in a bunker.
- “Although you’re not allowed to move loose impediments, such as insects in a hazard, and the boundary of a water hazard extends vertically, it’s OK to swat a flying insect before playing from a hazard.” DECISION 13-4/16.5
This rule is probably the funniest exemption from the prohibition on moving loose impediments. So basically, you cannot remove an insect, even if it is crawling on your golf ball or buzzing around you, unless you are in a water hazard! (I have probably broken this rule over 100 times already).
- “If your ball is lodged in an orange, you cannot take relief without penalty.” DECISION 23/10
In response to the title of this post, “what if our golf ball is embedded in an orange?” here is the definitive answer: No! I have to take a stupid one-shot penalty!
Kaspriske, Ron; Levins, Keely. “It’s In The Book, Trust Us.” Golf Digest. Oct 17. 2013. Web. Sep 25. 2015
“Phil Mickelson loses clubhead at Valero Texas Open.” PGA Tour. Mar 26. 2015. Web. Sep 30. 2015.