What are the two most dreaded words in golf…”you’re away”?…no, it’s when someone shouts…”winter rules”!  Then look out, it’s mayhem.

We’ve all heard some doozies over the years; like, “winter rules, I’m just gonna move my ball onto the fairway cuz there are some dead leaves from last winter here, ok?”;  “there was snow in this bunker a few weeks ago, I’ll just play it from the fringe, winter rules!”; or “that shot shouldn’t count, the yardage markers aren’t in yet, so, winter rules…put me down for par”. Yikes!

But if we follow the real winter rules our round of golf will be about 7 hours… “If a player’s ball lies on a closely-mown area through the green the player may mark, lift and clean his ball without penalty. Before lifting, he must mark the position of the ball. The player must then place the ball on a spot within six inches of and not nearer the hole than where it originally lay, that is not in a hazard or on a putting green. A player may place his ball only once, and it is in play when it has been placed (Rule 20-4). If the ball fails to come to rest on the spot on which it was placed, Rule 20-3d applies. If the ball when placed comes to rest on the spot on which it is placed and it subsequently moves, there is no penalty and the ball must be played as it lies, unless the provisions of any other Rule apply. If the player fails to mark the position of the ball before lifting it or moves the ball in any other manner, such as rolling it with a club, he incurs a penalty of one stroke…blaa blaa, blaa, blaa.” Double yikes.

So my advice is just play winter rules year round…move your ball at will, pop it out of the ruff, fluff it up onto a tuft of  grass, dig it out of a tree root and toss it out onto the fairway, putt, miss and call it a  practice putt, “winter rules” and enjoy playing. But please don’t say that you “shot a 79 and that I owe you a buck”, because I’ll say “no I believe I shot a 78, ‘winter rules’ you owe me a twonie”.

By Paul D. Bell, 
Mover and Shaker.


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