When a player hits a golf ball into a sand trap, there are two important aspects he must consider -- aside from playing the next shot -- that relate to the sand. First, there’s the standard rule of golf etiquette that requires players to rake the sand they disturb after they hit the shot, so the next poor soul who lands in the bunker at least can play from a smooth surface. Additionally, there’s the rule that forbids players from touching the sand with a club -- commonly known as “grounding” the club -- prior to hitting from a bunker. Whether you may ground your club after playing a sand shot depends on where the ball lands.
Weekend golfers frequently fight a slice because their right shoulder moves out over the ball on their downswing. If you struggle to keep your right shoulder from moving out over the ball -- a common error for players who swing "over the top" -- a few simple steps can help you alleviate the problem.
You hit a beautiful golf shot and the ball nearly strikes the flagstick before rolling just off the putting surface. You are closer to the hole than any of your competitors, with a straight, five-foot putt for birdie. You should march up to the green and knock the ball in, right? Not so fast. Golf has rules for just about everything – including determining who putts first once all players are on or near the green. According to the United States Golf Association, the player in your group who is farthest from the hole – not the closest -- takes the next shot, meaning you may have to wait a while before your big putt.
TV viewers are often confused by the intricacies of golf rules. They see some players penalized for things over which they apparently had no control, while other players receive unexpected benefits after poor shots. Conflicts over the strict regulations that determine whether a club's use is legal rarely come to the public's attention. That wasn't the case when the PGA Tour and club maker Ping disagreed over the shape of grooves used on irons -- a disagreement that dragged out for two decades.
Golf is the great equalizer, routinely humbling tour pros, world leaders and weekend duffers alike. We love the game, but the game doesn't always love us. It is a struggle that vexes us to the point of raising a clenched fist into the air in impotent rage and declaring a burial plot for our wretched sticks, only to be seduced anew by a chip shot that bites the green with singular beauty. The game's equipment has come a long way since the brassie, the baffing spoon and the mashie, but on many days even the best golfer can appreciate Winston Churchill's summation of golf as "a game whose aim is to hit a very small ball into an even smaller hole, with weapons singularly ill-designed for the purpose." Fitting yourself with the tools of the game will accentuate your strengths and minimize your weaknesses. That’s paramount not just to improving your skills, but your relationship with the sport as well.