Rory McIlroy was penalized two strokes for wiping away sand from just off the green that was in his line of play at a tournament in Abu Dhabi recently. He finished one shot behind the winner, Robert Rock. A few years ago, several gallery members lifted a boulder out of the way so Tiger Woods could play a shot. No penalty.
The rules of golf allow loose impediments to be removed from one’s line of play or around the golf ball. Size of the impediment should not matter. A grain of sand should not be considered any differently than a stick, pebble, or boulder. Here’s another rub. You can wipe sand from your line of putt if you are on the green, but not if it is in your line just off the green. Crazy.
The other two rules I would change involve divots and spike marks. Nothing is more aggravating than hitting a ball right down the middle and then finding your ball sitting in the middle of a divot hole. If it were a hole made by an animal, it would be a free lift. I guess human holes are not as bad as animal holes. One could argue that divots are a part of the game and landing in one is just rub of the green. You don’t get to move your ball out of a footprint in a sand trap. That is true; however, sand can be raked and the surface put back in perfect condition after a person plays. Only the vilest of human beings don’t rake after themselves. A divot cannot be repaired as easily, and it does not seem right that you have to play from a spot where the previous player had a good lie.
Lastly, spike marks. How can anyone justify that it is okay to repair a ball mark in your putting line but not a mark made by a footprint? There is no logic that I can think of to explain one versus the other. I suppose one could say that you have to fix ball marks because they damage the surface and not to repair them would ruin the putting surface. Okay, so repair them after you putt, just like you repair spike marks after you putt. However, in my rule book, golfers could repair both before striking the ball.
So, those are three rules I would change. We need rules (otherwise, as Cosmo Kramer would say, there would be chaos), but illogical rules should be eliminated. Just one man’s opinion.