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Learning the Rules of PlayGot it! Now, where's the golf rule book?

“Study the rules so that you won't beat yourself by not knowing something.”
-- Babe Didricksen Zaharias

Babe Didricksen ZahariasBabe Didricksen, recognized as one of the predominant athletes and golfers of the 20th Century, understood the value of knowing the rules. Name another sport that has more rules than the game of golf. Soccer, Hockey, Football? I don't think so. Learning the rules and etiquette of golf is just as important as practicing your swing and putts. Maybe more so. Why? Because you have the responsibility of serving as your own judge and jury in many instances on the course.

Links to Golf Quotes

You may have noticed how much we love the odd golf quote here at PastureGolf.com. This does not make us unique on the world wide web. There are a lot of sports quotes sites in general and golf quote sites in particular. To cut through the fluff and because (as George Orwell wrote) some are more equal than others, we decided to create a four-star sports quote website award to honor the most equal of them all. The only worthy recipient to date is the phenomenal website for runners which seems to have a sharp eye for the scintillating sports quote - 10kTruth.com!

PastureGolf.com's Four Star Site Award for Babe Didricksen Quotes!
10kTruth.com Quotes by Babe Didricksen Zaharias
(Recipient of the PastureGolf.com Four Star Sports Quotes Website Award!)

PastureGolf.com's Four Star Site Award for Golf Quotes!
10kTruth.com Golf Quotes
(Recipient of the PastureGolf.com Four Star Sports Quotes Website Award!)

Steven Pressfield, author of The Legend of Bagger Vance: A Novel of Golf and the Game of Life, illustrates this point: “Consider the golfer's relation to the Rules, Junah. This too differs from every other sport. In baseball a batter, knowing a pitch to be over the plate, will argue vociferously with an umpire to the opposite effect, trying to avoid having a strike called on him. The tennis player will bitterly contest a line call he knows to be fair, the footballer vehemently declare his innocence of a penalty he knows he committed. In other words they will lie. Deliberately.To gain selfish advantage. It is only in golf, Junah, that players routinely call penalties on themselves.”

Jack Nicklaus said the same thing in not so many words. “If there's one thing golf demands above all else, it's honesty.” Donald Ross is even more succinct, “Every golfer is on his honor.” But to be honest, you must know what's allowed or not allowed according to the rules of play. One way to learn the rules of golf is to hit the books. Another way is to play the game and suffer the penalties called on yourself. Tom Watson suggests, There is no surer nor (more) painful way to learn a rule than to be penalized for breaking it.


Lance Christensen of the community of Kyle in the heart of the Pine Ridge Reservation got the ratio of beginning play to rules instruction just about right when he started working with young golfers at Little Wound School. The following excerpt is from a Golf Journal feature story titled Native to the Game by Barry Lorge (November 1999).

Christensen is the truant officer at Little Wound School in Kyle. He went before the school board to propose a team. “They were against it at first,” he recalled. “How could we have a team when we didn't have a golf course?”I told them there were ways around it.

They started in a field in front of Christensen's house, where his grandfather used to grow potatoes. Twelve of the 14 original team members had never played, so Christensen had them hit balls into the field, retrieve as many as they could find, then repeat the exercise. When the supply of balls disappeared after a couple of weeks, team members studied the rule book and etiquette until more balls could be secured. - Source: Golf Journal feature story titled Native to the Game by Barry Lorge (November 1999).

Read more about Pasture Golf Etiquette and Local Rules and Remember to Send PastureGolf.com any odd local rules you've come across during your golf outings.

Link to the United States Golf Association Rules of Golf

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This Page Updated: June 26, 2005

Copyright © 1999-2012 Bruce Manclark & Cory Eberhart