Sunday, January 31, 2010

Thoughts on attending a PGA/USGA Rules Workshop

A couple of questions have been raised concerning the PGA/USGA Rules Workshop. So here are a couple more thoughts.

Should an everyday, recreational golfer attend one of these workshops? Well, yes and we are 70-30 on that answer. If you have a love for the game, which would naturally include a knowledge of the rules and a desire to play by the rules, then the answer is definitively YES! If you play with a few buddies only occasionally and do it solely so you can say you play golf, don't bother.

Here is a litmus test of sorts although it is not 100% foolproof. Let's examine the word “mulligan.” When you play do take a mulligan every now and then? Do you know which rule addresses the taking of mulligans? Most importantly, do you care?

Take about five minutes to think about all of this and then make a decision. But consider a couple of other points ...

The Rules Workshop is intense – three days of eight hours per day covering virtually every word in the Rules of Golf. It does not seem long. If you're paying attention, time flies. There is an optional fourth day which involves testing.

The cost can be a bit steep $300 for the entire Workshop. If you attendance requires travel, lodging, meals and incidentals, that should be factored into the decision.

You will not learn “How” to study the rules. You will get a very healthy dose of the rules and learn how to maneuver your way through the Rules and Decisions. And, if you choose to attend, we would suggest you have at least a rudimentary knowledge of the rules. Perhaps the best preparation would be to study the Definitions. That should prepare you sufficiently.

Any other questions or thoughts, please leave a comment.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

999 Questions on the Rules of Golf

So how much fun can learning the Rules of Golf be? If you have played just a little bit of golf, surely someone has ungraciously shoved the Rule Book in front of your face and with proper golf snobbery and exclaimed, “You need to read this!” You faithfully march into the Golf Shop, plop down your two bucks for the USGA's The Rules of Golf and head onto the patio for a beer and a little light reading. At first glance the task of reading through this somewhat diminutive book (182 pages) does not seem so daunting. But after you get past the section on Etiquette (pages 1-4) and begin to go through the pages on Definitions your suspicions begin to be aroused that this may not be the most reader-friendly book you have ever encountered.

You quickly discover that just reading through this book will not gain you a working knowledge of the rules. There must be another way. Surely golfers know some trick to attaining a knowledge of the rules that are actually applicable on the golf course.

Well, there's good news and bad news.

First the bad news: there is no gimmick. The book that contains the Rules of Golf is a conundrum, the ultimate brain-teaser. You learn by study and experience.

Now the good news: Eye On Golf is able to recommend one of the best volumes on the Rules of Golf – 999 Questions On the Rules of Golf by Barry Rhodes – for your rules meditative pleasure. We know the title will not make you think it's a page turner. It's hard to make the title of any rules book sound dynamic or exciting. But once you open this gem you will have some fun with the rules.

Mr. Rhodes has divided his book into three sections of 333 questions (hence the number 999 in the title) separated primarily by difficulty. Each of the three sections contains a mix of True/False, Open Answer and Multiple Choice. The structure of this volume makes the learning easy. Each of the 999 questions is followed immediately by the answer AND a note of explanation which reinforces the correct ruling and enhances the learning experience.

As you might expect, when you move from section to section, the questions become more difficult. Section 1 contains simple questions that should be general knowledge for every golfer. In Section 2 the questions become a bit more involved and difficult. Mr. Rhodes calls these “...questions relevant to both casual golfers and Golf Club members. The final section hits you with the big rules hammer – questions for those seeking to expand their knowledge of the Rules. These questions will not only have you reaching for that Rules of Golf, but also the gigantic Decisions of the Rules of Golf.

Rhodes is a trained accountant who has become a rules junkie. He is the first person to attain a score of 100% on the public Advanced Rules of Golf Course exam sponsored by the European PGA. Mr. Rhodes addiction to the rules of our game has become our blessing.

Get this one and put a little fun into learning the Rules of Golf.

For copies of this book visit his website –

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Impressions of a golf rules workshop

If you have read a couple of the past entries, you know that we attended a PGA/USGA Rules Workshop last weekend in Scottsdale. We thought we would pass along a few of our impressions.

It was intensive. The workshop consisted of three eight-hours days totally immersed in the Rules of Golf and the Decisions. (There was a fourth day which consisted of an optional test.) Word-by-word we were guided through each of the 34 rules and a multitude of applicable decisions. Each rule was dissected and explained. There were slides and videos to aid in the explanation and understanding of certain rule situations. As you can imagine there was no time to let your focus wander.

The plan of attack on dissecting the rules was simple – rule by rule, word by word. However, it was not Rule 1 through 34 in chronological order. Rather, there was a fair amount of jumping around to accommodate the learning sequence. The next time you decide to study the rule book cover to cover, try this sequence Definitions, 1-3, 9 34, 4-6, 33, 7, 8, 20, 10-19, 21-32.

If you think you have a good working knowledge of the rules, think again! Those who were attending one of these sessions for the first time (about 40) quickly discovered that our knowledge was actually rudimentary. There is always something to learn about the rules. The majority of the attendees were there for a repeat performance.

There was one overriding point that the instructors tried to drive home: It’s all about the Definitions, stupid. Everything in the rules is predicated on the Definitions. If you do not know the Definitions, you will never be able to make a proper judgment.

What did we learn? Well, here’s our take. We are certain we learned a lot, we’re just not sure how much we know – yet. One skill we did enhance was the ability to manipulate in, around and through the Rules Book and the Decisions. Even if you don’t have an encyclopedic knowledge of the rules, you can still get to a proper conclusion for any situation if you know you way around the Rules Book.

Stay tuned for more thoughts on the rules.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Rules of Golf Workshop: Day Two

In summary Day Two was fact-filled and fun-packed. It involved two of the most misinterpreted and misunderstood rules 13 and 20 and the seasoning was provided by Rule 15. Just for fun, look up these three rules, study them for a while and then go to the USGA website and take a practice test or two. That'll make your day.

Short on time for today, but in the days to come we'll share more of our experience – the experience of a life time.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Rules of golf workshop – day one

Yesterday was the beginning of the PGA/USGA Workshop n the Rules of Golf. The PGA and USGA have been conducting these workshops since 1975 so you can imagine that they are pretty good at it. Of course, a good workshop or seminar depends on the instructor and the mechanics of presentation – primarily on the instructor. And when it comes to the instructor it comes down to two factors: how well does he/she know the material and what is the quality of the presentation. Our lecturers are Jeff Hall of the USGA and Larry Startzel of the PGA. Quite frankly, they get an A on both counts. The sessions are lively and both of these gentlemen have an encyclopedic knowledge of the Rules of Golf. Hall is the Director of Rules and Competition Standards for the USGA and Startzel is the chief rules official for the PGA.

There are approximately 150 attendees, the largest number ever for any workshop. They have come from virtually very part of the country - New York, Alaska, Minnesota, and several other states of the Midwest. Their positions within the world of golf are as varied as the architecture of golf courses – club professionals, state golf association members and the like. At least twenty have attended ten or more of these rules laboratories. Yes, you read that correctly; they are in double digits on attendance. Rules junkies! But if you're running a golf tournament of sitting in your office as a club professional, you will be bombarded with questions on the rules. It's the nature of the job and you had better be prepared.

The format is quite simple – you go through The Rules of Golf with assistance from the Decision Book and learn the meaning of each and every rule. Tedious – of course, necessary – most definitely. There are a few classroom rules: no talking; no questions until question time (and you're allowed just three questions per day); don't ask what you already know; and, try not to bother the instructors during break time. No one really keeps count of questions and Jeff and Larry while answer any question during break.

Going through the Rules one-by-one may seem a bit unimaginative or uncreative, but, frankly, there is no other way to do it. That's they way you would have to look them up in the book, so it's way to learn them. With that said, the method is not chronological order and then the Appendices. While the order of the rules has been carefully thought out, the rules require constant cross referencing. In application here's the order it went yesterday: the Definitions, Rule 1, 2, 3, 9, 34, 4, 5, 6, 33, 7. If you spend just a few minutes examining these rules, you will understand the logic behind the sequence.

More tomorrow on Day Two.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The mystery of the rules of golf

“Study the rules so that you won’t beat yourself by not knowing something.” Babe Zaharias

How well do you know the Rules of Golf? We all know that all we need to know (well, almost all) about the rules is contained in a small 4”x6” book that contains 34 rules in 182 pages. How arduous can the task be?

Excluding the Bible no other book has been subject to so much misunderstanding and mystery. Is it one stroke or two? Is it one clublength or two? Do I drop it or place it? Do I drop it here? Or here?

If you play in any kind of competition, and almost everyone does, knowledge of the rules is paramount. As the above quote by Babe Zaharias states, a limited or non-existent knowledge of the rules can get the better of you.

Today begins a four-day PGA/USGA rules workshop in Scottsdale. This is one of several that are conducted every year around the country. It’s an intensive course covering the entire Rule Book and the Decisions.

We mention this solely because Eye On Golf will be attending and we are excited. We’ll keep you appraised.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Dave Pelz's Damage Control

When we play the game, the game we love so much, yet tortures us unmercifully, we manage (albeit unintentionally) to get our ball into trouble, some of us more than others. No doubt it is a bit disheartening to put the ball into unintended and precarious situations, but the real frustration comes when we are unable to extricate the little white object back to safety. Thus begins the slog toward the green and ultimately a disastrous score for the hole.

Fortunately the solution for that disastrous hole or two that many of us encounter each round may have arrived. Short game guru Dave Pelz has a new offering for our golfing dilemma – Dave Pelz's Damage Control: How to eliminate up to 5 shots per round using all-new, scientifically proven techniques for playing out of trouble lies. (we're going with Damage Control as the title.) It is 328 pages of text, pictures and diagrams on how to escape from trouble after an errant shot has landed you butt-deep in a vexatious situation.

Pelz, as you may know, is a former NASA scientist who turned his statistical and analytical talents to golf. He has written two of the premier instruction books on the short game – the Short Game Bible and the Putting Bible. He has dedicated his life to improving the world's short game through scientific research and an analysis of statistics and has become the short game guru to the stars. Now he has ventured into the realm of helping us get out of trouble.

Are you not familiar with Damage Control? Pelz answers the question in his introduction, “'s new. We just covered and named it.” Well maybe. But you will learn all you need to know about how to get out of dire straits. And why do we need Damage Control? He argues the following: Should we learn to hit the ball better so we can avoid trouble? No! “The inadequacies in our normal game are the reason we need Damage Control.”

Pelz categorizes the process of Damage Control into five skills – Setupology, Swing Shaping, Hand-Fire Feel, Red-Flag Touch, Damage Control Mentality - and dedicates a detailed and thorough chapter to each one. In typical Pelz style the book is filled with wonderful, full-color photos of situations and techniques. He concludes the volume with a 50-page chapter on drills that will assist you on accomplishing the goal. This chapter alone is worth the price of the book.

Overall I am a big fan Pelz. He has done marvelous research in this area in particular tracking thousands of rounds from the Myrtle Beach World Amateur Championship. The statistical analysis of all these numbers led to his system of Damage Control. If you are truly committed to lowering your score, then a dedicated adherence to this book will certainly be of great assistance. It is not a volume to read through and put back on the shelf. It must be studied and practiced and get dogeared and dirty. I highly recommend this for instructors and low handicappers.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Leftist golf media taking their shots

The times they have changed. (My apologies to Bob Dylan) We have entered an electronic age in which experts on virtually every subject known to mankind are making their sentiments publicly known. Some are kind and gentle and some appear to be kind and gentle but have in reality escaped from the bowels of literary hell.

The world of golf is no exception. The blogosphere is filled with “golf experts” who are unafraid to present their opinions on a particular point of minutia. Golf is a multifaceted game. There are more story lines than stars in the sky. And the most dominate story line in the golf world, especially in the absence of tournaments, has been the Tiger Woods saga. Every writer has weighed in on Tiger’s situation.

Perhaps the most weight has been thrown around by author and golf blogger Geoff Shackelford on his website In general Shackelford’s website tracks the world of golf and directs patrons to articles of interest usually with a short, snarky comment of his own. In fairness, his website is one of the most popular in the world of golf. He is a pied piper of sorts.

Naturally he has been tracking the saga of Tiger since the day it began – almost all Tiger, almost all the time. Until three or four days ago he has been doing his usual thing. But on January 3 Shackelford decided to open a political can of worms on his blog when he stated, “… in yet another sign this story has hit rock bottom, windbag extraordinaire Brit Hume weighs in on how Tiger can rehab his life and image.” His commentary is emphatically political. Using descriptions “rock bottom” and “windbag extraordinaire” is a dead give away to his political leaning – left.
Talk about hitting rock bottom and being a windbag extraordinaire! Shackelford has duplicated the very faculty he is objecting to. But why should he care. His loyal following is heavily slanted to his opinion. You can check it our for yourself on his website which is living off of the Tiger mess and now the Hume slamming.

And, of course, there had to be more. Windbag extraordinaire Tom Shales, style columnist for the Washington Post, decided to take on Mr. Hume’s comments. The observations of Mr. Shales are, as you might expect, hardly fair and balanced. Of course, Shackelford references the comments of Shales on his website – birds of a feather, if you will.

We can only conclude that the new rock bottom has been hit by Shackelford and Shales.