When touring pros like Adam Scott, Webb Simpson, and Keegan Bradley started winning tournaments with long and belly putters last year, sales of unconventional putters skyrocketed. It grew hard to find them on the rack at many retailers. Odyssey Golf, which manufactures the White Hot XG Sabertooth belly putter used by Bradley, reported that sales increased more than 400% last year.
The USGA and the R&A have released changes to the Rules of Golf that will take effect January 1, 2012. For the first time in the 60-year collaboration between golf ’s two ruling bodies, the USGA and R&A have jointly issued a rules book that will remain in effect through 2015.
In many years of playing golf, I’ve yet to discover any relief from the biggest obstruction I face on the course: my brain. However, Rule 24 does provide relief from “movable obstructions” and “immovable obstructions.”
The rules of golf are unforgiving. Apparently, the 18th Century Scotsmen who devised the first formal rules were a stern bunch. As if the game itself is not challenging enough for mere mortals, golfers who strive to abide by the rules are subject to a myriad of penalties, even in cases where they are not at fault.
Case in point: once the player has addressed the ball (taken his or her stance and grounded the club), any movement of the ball (for example, by wind or some ground tremor) results in a one-stroke penalty because the player is “deemed” to have moved the ball.• (Rule 18-2b.)• (“Deem” is a word commonly encountered in legal parlance, but unfortunately has infiltrated the rules of golf. This might put a new spin on Shakespeare’s resolve to “kill all the lawyers” – perhaps the bard played golf.)