Ignorance of the rules of golf is too often used as an excuse when a player violates a rule and so maybe it’s time that the game’s elite do a little studying. They spend hours working on their games. I’m sure all of them could find the time to further their knowledge, even if it meant less time tweeting. Just a few minutes a day reading the definitions would help. Even better would be reading the Decisions on the Rules of Golf, which details many unusual happenings that occur on the golf course related to the rules.
There’s no doubt that knowledge of the rules can be an advantage, saving a player strokes or even disqualifications when they know the proper procedures to follow.
It might be interesting to see how many of the touring pros actually have a rules book in their golf bags. Too many times, they rely on the rules officials when there is even the slightest bit of doubt. That’s OK in some cases, but not every time when even the simplest things that most amateur are aware of can just be done.
It should have been obvious to Camilo Villegas that he could not remove the loose impediment in Hawaii. He could just have accepted a two-stroke penalty instead of finding out later after he had signed his scorecard and was disqualified.
Padraig Harrington’s case was a little different. It took a slow-motion television replay to actually see that his ball had moved slightly. I’m sure it has happened more times than we realize. It’s hard to fault the player in this case.
Maybe one of the steps needed is to require all players who earn their Tour Cards to attend a rules seminar and maybe even pass a rules test—it doesn’t have to be as difficult as we rules officials take.
Sadly, we will see more rules violations in the future until touring pros get to know the rules better.