Sign and check that Card

The Rules of Golf.

Now that's an interesting topic. In fact, golf rules present fascinating scenarios and what-ifs that captivate roundtables, so much so that two or three hours is just not enough, as I found out when Becky Stritzel asked me to conduct a clinic for the Diamondhead ladies.

Some golfers dig into the rules, while others would just rather ignore them and enjoy a good walk spoiled, as Mark Twain labeled 18 holes that usually involve a free drop, penalty or provisional. However, playing by the rules doesn't have to ruin a fun day of golf. Consequently, not knowing the 34 statutes that govern the game might result in a good round spoiled.

Last Wednesday at the MHSAA State 6A Golf Championship at Lake Caroline Golf Club, one golfer who "played well" according to his coach was disqualified for not penciling in his score on Hole 18. This result occurs too often at high school and collegiate events. A good friend lost an NJCAA National Championship because one of his players didn't sign his card before returning it.

Cruel? Yes. Necessary? Definitely. No other sport gives the player ultimate responsibility for the score, yet too often young golfers don't want to take the time to check each box and signature lines. Too often officials aren't available at high school tournaments. At NCAA and USGA events we assign referees to the starting and scoring tents.

Rule 6-The Player makes the competitor in Stroke Play responsible for knowing the rules. In regard to the scorecard, 6-6d states, "The competitor is responsible for the correctness of the score recorded for each hole on his score card. If he returns a score for any hole lower than actually taken, he is disqualified. If he returns a score for any hole higher than actually taken, the score as returned stands."

Other actions may disqualify a player, but for high school tournaments, the scorecard causes more problems than any other rule.

Tommy Snell, golf coach at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, writes a column for the Sun Herald.