Each Summer, leaders in professional sports leagues like the NFL and the NBA gather together to reassess the rules of the game and vote for changes and additions. The PGA does the same thing, but for the past five years, the objective has been to shrink the rulebook.
Golf is a complicated game. For the casual observer, it seems like a straightforward procedure: use a variety of clubs to drive a little white ball down a perfectly manicured course and into a tiny hole. While that may be the essence of the game, there are a lot of rules that dictate the course of that ball’s progression. Over a series of meetings, golf rules experts are trying to whittle down that behemoth list, while still preserving the integrity of the game.
But it’s not as easy as just cutting out obscure rules or allowing for more exceptions of one sort or another. Like any other game, golf’s rules are complex. Altering one rule could have an effect on many others, too. It’s like coming across a tangled mess of wires— the easy thing to do would be to cut through the mess, but doing so would destroy the cables (and functionality) of a lot of devices in the process.
Still, some players are welcoming these changes with open arms. Even though they love the game, they decry its pacing. Others have acknowledged that playing the game can sometimes mean going into situations blind. Dustin Johnston, for instance, lost the US Open in 2010 and won this year in part because of a misunderstanding of the rules. Johnston, like many other golfers, never bothered to read the rulebook. These are smart people, but the code of the game is labyrinthine. Taking time to decipher it takes a back seat to actually getting out there and improving your play.
While there is no announced deadline, officials hope to see a draft of a modernized rule book within a year, although it could be some time before a final version is made available.