“Lighten Up Francis” – Playing by Your Own Rules

At one time you have probably heard the quote “Lighten up Francis”.  It comes from Sergeant Hulka in that classic movie Stripes.  It popped into my head after playing my latest round of golf because golf is supposed to be fun and not bogged down by a bunch of nit-picky rules and regulations.  Did you know that approximately 20% of all golfers maintain a handicap?  Well that means that the remaining 80% don’t and will often play by a slightly different set of rules.

On the first tee of our friendly match I noticed the person I met just minutes before take some duct tape out of his bag, tear a strip of it off and apply it to the face of his driver.  Did me or my playing partner tell him that he couldn’t play with us because he was violating Rule 4b in the Rules of Golf?  Heck no, we didn’t even bat an eye.  If he thought it would reduce the side spin off of his driver so he would hit the ball straighter, well so be it.  We would spend less time in the sweltering heat potentially looking for a lost golf ball.

I am sure most of you bend the rules from time to time.  For instance you might stand around on the first tee box and everyone in your foresome agrees to allow to take a mulligan off of the first tee, be able to roll the ball in your own fairway, etc.  Those aren’t allowed in the Rules of Golf.  But you won’t see the golf pro kicking you off of the course.  Why?  It is a leisurely game meant to be fun so you will come back to play.

I don’t remember anybody checking mine or for that matter any others bag to make sure that we had clubs with conforming grooves. Plus the fellow golfers I played with that day didn’t care that I had a prototype driver in my bag that would not have shown up on the USGA’s Conforming Driver list either.  However the Rules of Golf force manufacturers to meet these rules which costs them money and ultimately is passed onto the consumer in which 4 out of 5 golfers could care diddly-squat.

While my playing partner carried me most of the day, in the end I sank a little 5 footer for par on the final hole to win the point and the match and put a little spare change in my pocket.  That’s what golf is all about.  People spending 4 or 5 hours in the great outdoors enjoying themselves and their company forgetting about all of life’s worries.  So next time you play golf, take heed from Sergeant Hulka and “Lighten up Francis”.


  1. Donnie M Davis says:

    good article we play a va league here in danville,il and we use winter rules we can roll the ball 6 inches with our club but not closer to the pin and we have FUN at it,like you say lighten up because it will not last forever

  2. Mike says:

    This reminds me of my brother. Whenever we go out and play it always ends up in a fight. First tee he is rubbing some type of “snot stick” on the face of his driver to reduce spin. He hits 2 or 3 balls off of the first tee until he gets one he likes, oh and that does not count as a mulligan. In a sandtrap if he swings at the ball and misses it, that of course does not count because “the club never touched the ball”. My favorite is when he misses a short put and the ball goes by the hole he does the old reach around the cup and slaps it in while it’s still moving, not counting the slap in as a stroke or even thinking about that he just hit a ball in motion. On top of all of this he never counts balls that have went out of bounds, lost in the woods or unplayables. He just drops a ball where he likes and never counts a penalty stroke…Ever!!! I say this, if was playing basketball and decided to tuck the ball under my arm and run down the court to make a basket, I most certainly would be called for traveling. I guess that I am bothered by the fact that these are the guys that play with us golfers that do follow the rules and then brag to everyone that they beat you by “X” number of points. BS. You may have carded a 78 but you hit the ball (or tried to hit the ball) 102 times! Learn the rules Francis!

  3. Gary says:

    I played golf once with a Baptist minister who hit 3 balls on every shot (including putts). At least he played very fast and had his own cart so he wasn’t holding up anyone. We only saw him on the tee and the green as he would hit and jump in the cart and take off before anyone else hit their tee shot. Obviously, he counted the best of the shots as his score. I think he was telling everyone that he scored 79! It takes all kinds!

    A USGA official once told me that the “average” golfer commits 18 rules violations per 18 hole round…so someone claiming to score 90 would really be scoring 108.
    While none of this upsets me, what does upset me is that these same golfers are the ones who play the “tips” so that it becomes a 5 1/2 hour round of golf. This is one of the biggest reasons for the decline in all aspects of the golf industry

  4. David Wilson says:

    The group I play with always allow you to roll it in your own fairway. Since our ages vary from the youngest 21 to the oldest 72 we use multiple tees. The 21 year old plays the blue as he is the longest hitter and the 72 year old uses the reds as he is the shortest hitter. The other two are both in their 50’s and they use the white tees. With this arrangement nobody gives any strokes and any two can be partners. The matches are always pretty close.

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