10 Practical Rules for 18 Handicappers

Editor’s note: I get emails. Following is one (slightly edited) that I received about three weeks ago from David Savage of Collingswood, New Jersey. “Use this any way you see fit,” David wrote. “I worry that the USGA and R&A are losing touch with public course players.” So, here’s David. And please don’t tell The Rules Geek.

10 Practical Rules for 18 Handicappers 1
Do you play by the Rules?

By David Savage


Most of the Rules of Golf, as I read them, function very well for high-level competitionvery skilled players, caddies, rules committee personnel who are readily available, prize money and ranking at stake, and more.

However, there should be a separate set of Rules for us 18 handicappers who play infrequently. These suggestions are practical and help speed up play. We do many of them already.

1. No stroke and distance for lost ball. Do you really want to slow up everyone’s Saturday morning? Drop/place nearby and keep playing.

2. Two club lengths (even better 10 yards) for all other drops. And don’t dropplace the ball.

3. Repair all damage to the green before and after you putt. Heaven knows no one else repairs the greens.

4. Lift and clean whenever necessary. We hit plenty of bad shots using clean golf balls, much less dirty ones.

5. Replace the ball when you feel like it. We all putt with a new ball and play with a different one.

6. If you can move itmove it. Obstructions and Loose Impediments anywhere they occur.

7. Play when ready. No waiting for the farthest from the green/hole to play.

8. Advice. Take it anywhere and from anyone you can get it!

9. Use rangefinders and GPS all the time. Many courses have no (or hidden) distance markers.

10. Anything else that makes sense.

EXAMPLE: A player drives deeply into a stand of trees and the ball may be lost. If he hits a provisional, it will likely end up close to the same spot. Instead, after the first drive, go to where the ball entered the trees, look quickly, if not found, or if it is unplayable, drop or place one near where the original ball entered and keep playing, one stroke penalty. Think about the delay of returning to the tee where two foursomes are waiting, and hitting another drive (probably into the trees again).

Club pros do a great job of helping us amateurs play better and understand the Rules. But until I have a single-digit handicap and am playing in regional tournaments, make golf more fun, play faster and get more people interested in the game.

Photo of author
Neil Sagebiel

4 thoughts on “10 Practical Rules for 18 Handicappers”

  1. I have a problem with codifying a set of "duffer rules". Play by the Rules or don't – it does not matter to me unless we are in a tournament or money is on the line.

    Everyone wants Rules Snobs like me to tell them it is okay to play an easier set of rules. Some try to justify mangling the Rules as a method of speeding play which I find laughable. Others suggest that ignoring the Rules makes the game more fun. Doubtful.

    I will, however play along. Fine … it is okay to ignore the Rules. Just don't tell me you shot 75 or how you made 6 birdies when you engage in a a game that is "sort of like golf".

  2. I say, play to have fun! Rules are for tournaments. Do I really care if the people I am playing with broke a rule that has no real bearing on the game….nope. Golf is a sport that presents the opportunity to challenge ourselves and I am okay with not enforcing the rules all the time. Just have fun!


  3. they had changed the rule in the r@a once about stroke and distance and made it just a stroke ,,but then changed it back ,dumb move on their part .worst rule change ever.other than that it all sounds good..6-10 hdcp here1

  4. I have a better idea, why not stay in the clubhouse and make up scores for your round, then you won't have to worry about the rules at all!

    If you want to cheat guys fine, but if playing by a different set of rules how will you ever know what you are capable of?

    If you play provisional balls you won't hang people up on the course.


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