What better way to spend a Friday morning than by bickering about the Rules of Golf? Many of us will agree that the Rules of Golf are overly punitive. Stroke and distance? Get outta here. Two-shot penalties? Go kick a brick.
Out of all the incredibly stupid golf rules, however, it is perhaps one unwritten rule that disturbs me the most: sand-filled divots in the fairway NOT being considered ground under repair.
For reference, the current operational definition of "ground under repair" is as follows (Rule 25-1):
25-1. Abnormal Ground Conditions
Interference by an abnormal ground condition occurs when a ball lies in or touches the condition or when the condition interferes with the player’s stanceor the area of his intended swing. If the player’s ball lies on the putting green, interference also occurs if an abnormal ground condition on the putting green intervenes on his line of putt. Otherwise, intervention on the line of play is not, of itself, interference under this Rule.
There are a number of other clarifying points under Rule 25-1, but specifically addressing sand-filled divots is nowhere to be found. I find this to be absolutely infuriating.
What is an "abnormal ground condition"? Here's that definition:
So if a burrowing groundhog, or gopher, or some kind of hideous and horrifying bird-gopher-groundhog hybrid makes a tunnel on the course, as rare as that might be, we can declare it ground under repair. But if I hit a good drive right down the pipe and my ball rolls into a sand-filled divot, I'm basically told to go fuck myself.
I had this conversation with a friend of mine (who is a golf pro), and he couldn't agree more. People are basically penalized for hitting a good shot. The only possible rationale behind this annoying rule omission is that the USGA feels a sand-filled divot is the same thing as a fairway bunker... albeit tiny and in the middle of the damn fairway.
Instead, allow players a free drop with no penalty. It's that simple.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this subject. What other Rules of Golf drive you up a wall?