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Publication: Classic Laffaday
I Dinna Ken Ye Rules, Laddie

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          GOLF TIPS - Wednesday, July 2, 2008
 "Tips... News... And More... All For The Love Of The Game"

Fellow Duffers,

It's funny. I once read a book called Misquoting Jesus in which the
author, a Biblical scholar, explained how and why the Bible was
changed so much in the early years of Christianity. It was an eye
opening book that I recommend frequently.

And that was the first thing I thought of when I stumbled upon the
below article listing the original rules of golf.

What a testament that we can preserve the rules of golf, but not
the Message Jesus was sent down to convey.

Anyway, the rules are fascinating. Read them wi' yer best brogue!


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Original Rules of Golf
When Were the First Rules of Golf Developed?

There must have been rules known to golfers dating back to the
origins of the game. Otherwise, how could players have squared
off in competition? What those rules were, nobody knows.

At least not until the mid-18th Century, when the first known
written rules of golf were put into writing by the Gentlemen
Golfers of Leith, now the Honourable Company of Edinburgh
Golfers based at Muirfield. The rules were written for the
Annual Challenge for the Edinburgh Silver Club in 1744.

There were 13 of them, and here they are (with a few explanatory
comments in parentheses). Note how many of these rules survive

1. "You must tee your ball within a club's length of the hole."
(A diameter of two club lengths. Teeing grounds are now defined
as two club lengths in depth.)

2. "Your tee must be on the ground." (Tees, back in these days,
consisted of little pyramids of sand.)

3. "You are not to change the ball which you strike off the
tee." (Look at that - the "one ball condition way back then!
Actually, holing out with the same ball with which you teed
off - with a few exceptions - is in Rule 15-1)

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4. "You are not to remove stones, bones or any break club for
the sake of playing your ball, except upon the fair green, and
that only within a club's length of the ball." (Hmmm, bones?
Loose impediments, Rule 23)

5. "If your ball comes among watter, or any wattery filth, you
are at liberty to take out your ball and bringing it behind
the hazard and teeing it, you may play it with any club and
allow your adversary a stroke for so getting out your ball."
(Origin of the 1-stroke penalty for a ball in a water hazard.
Rule 26)

6. "If your balls be found anywhere touching one another you
are to lift the first ball till you play the last." (Rule 22-2)

7. "At holling you are to play your ball honestly at the hole,
and not to play upon your adversary's ball, not lying in your
way to the hole." (Don't do something petty such as trying to
hit your opponent's ball with your own. It’s OK in croquet,
not in golf.)

8. "If you should lose your ball, by its being taken up, or
any other way, you are to go back to the spot where you struck
last and drop another ball and allow your adversary a stroke
for the misfortune." (Stroke plus distance, Rule 27-1.)

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9. "No man at holling his ball is to be allowed to mark his way
to the hole with his club or anything else." (Now incorporated
in Rule 8-2.)

10. "If a ball be stopp'd by any person, horse, dog, or any
thing else, the ball so stopp'd must be played where it lyes."
(Deflection by an outside agency. Play it as it lies. Rule

11. "If you draw your club in order to strike and proceed so
far in the stroke as to be bringing down your club, if then
your club should break in any way, it is to be accounted a
stroke." (Definition of stroke)

12. "He whose ball lyes farthest from the hole is obliged to
play first." (Virtually unchanged after all this time. Rule 10)

13. "Neither trench, ditch, or dyke made for the preservation
of the links, nor the Scholars' Holes or the soldiers' lines
shall be accounted a hazard but the ball is to be taken out,
teed and play'd with any iron club." (The first written rules
also include the first local rule, for what we would now
describe as ground under repair.)

The Rules of Golf continued to be developed over time, taking
a huge step forward in 1897 when the Royal & Ancient Golf Club
of St. Andrews formed a Rules Committee.

Since 1952, the R&A and the United States Golf Association have
met every two years to set down a uniform code of rules.

Sources: British Golf Museum, Royal & Ancient Golf Club of
St. Andrews, Historical Rules of Golf

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