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”.