Magazine article Information Today

Golf Ball: It's That White Thing with Dimples

Magazine article Information Today

Golf Ball: It's That White Thing with Dimples

Article excerpt

The recent brouhaha over golfer Dustin Johnson's goof-up at the PGA Championship (a penalty that cost him a shot at making a playoff for the title) led us to hunt for the official rules of the game online.

We found them at USGA.org, more or less. We say "more or less" because the U.S. Golf Association (USGA) actually only shares responsibility for the rules and interpretations of golf with the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews. The R&A, as it's referred to in second reference, is that gray and windswept place in Scotland you see once every few years on television as the site of golf's British Open (or as RandA.org modestly refers to it, "the Open Championship").

The R&A and USGA have been working since 1952 to "produce a uniform code of Rules so that, wherever the game is played around the world, the same laws apply." In other words, this isn't the same situation as the National League versus every other baseball league in the world when it comes to the rules. Apparently, there are no designated-hitter-esque exceptions between the USGA and R&A books.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

They do look different, however. The R&A rules page (which, by the way, was just crammed into an iPhone app) is filled with images of clubhouses that look akin to something out of a Harry Potter film and golf courses that look much the same as green versions of Mars. "The Complete Rules of Golf, Amateur Status, Equipment and Decisions at Your Finger Tips" that pops up (with a fancy commercial sponsor similar to what you'd see on TV) is done with some fancy programming and can be shared on Facebook, Reddit, StumbleUpon, and a half-dozen more social media outlets. On the other hand, the USGA's site looks as though it was something from 1995 out of Archive.org.

Still, there are more similarities than differences. Golf's rules are similar to those for baseball or the constitution of the state of Texas, cobbled together by years of infighting, cheating, and bureaucracy. Here's a little gem of verbiage that came up at the USGA site:

"A player is deemed to have committed a serious breach of Rule 1-2 if the Committee considers that his act of influencing the position or movement of the ball has allowed him or another player to gain a significant advantage or has placed another player, other than his partner, at a significant disadvantage."

We suppose that a serious breach is worse than a minor breach. And we're guessing that a serious breach is punishable by having to continue to play golf for at least another 2 hours (only kidding, golfers) and a minor one for only 1 hour (still just kidding). …

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