Imagine being on the 18th tee of your club championship match. It’s all even, you have the honor and you drill your drive right down the middle of the fairway. Your opponent then proceeds to slice his drive into the trees. Boy, do you have an advantage or what? But then you discover that your opponent’s ball has come to rest inside an area that’s marked under repair. He gets a drop, without penalty, and it not only gives him a much better lie, but also removes a large oak tree that would have been right between his ball and the green.
Then you discover that your perfect drive is not so ideal. It’s right in the middle of the fairway but the lie is hideous. The ball has nestled down in a deep divot that some idiot forgot to replace. You can’t even get a club on the back of the ball. Now it’s time to delve into Gorman’s bag of tired clichés. “It’s the rub of the green”………… “Golf’s not a fair game” “Them’s the breaks.” Really? Why? Just why is that the rub of the green when such an event is so easily avoidable with the stroke of a pen in the rules of golf? Why should an area off the beaten path be ruled ground under repair when a divot in your fairway is “rub of the green”?
This is the one rule that baffles me and what is also baffling is that Gorman, who is on record as saying that many of the rules of golf are stupid and unnecessary, is arguing that THIS rule perfectly okay. Well maybe that’s because he has yet to hit a fairway in his long, ignominious golfing career (except those he is not playing). You can bet that if “Vegas” Tom found his ball in a divot on the final hole of a $5.00 Nassau, he’d go ballistic and be searching out the superintendent five minutes after he brought his golf cart screeching into the parking area. The greatest golfer of all time, Jack Nicklaus, has been on record for years as a proponent of including divots as ground under repair.
Makes sense, since they will be repaired at some point in the future. Makes no sense that just because you were unlucky enough to roll into one you should be penalized. Golf is supposed to reward good shots and punish bad shots and the rules are in place to give players relief from ground that has been deemed in need of repair (even if that ground never gets repaired). What ground is more in need of repair than a divot? Why does almost every course have signs asking that you replace your divots?
Do you think professional tour players have to deal with this? Not on your life. When an announcer says that a ball has rolled into a divot it’s a misnomer. In reality the ball has rolled onto a sand-filled divot because after each group goes through there is an army of workers who run out onto the fairway and fill in any divots that the players may have left behind. You never see that on television.
Now sand-filled divots are not “easy” to hit from but you do get a fair chance to strike the back of the ball and if the rules were modified, as they should be, touring players would get the same relief from a sand-filled divot as they would had their ball rolled into an area designated ground under repair. There’s a reason the PGA Tour allows players to lift, clean, and place in fairways when conditions are wet and muddy. That kind of thinking should extend to divots as well.
(Tim Geary is a R.I. based freelance writer. His divots are so deep that he has been nicknamed The Archeologist).WHAT'S YOUR REACTION?