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If the rules don't get you, the interpretations will

That Dustin Johnson thing got you steamed at the stiff-necked PGA, the goofy golf course, the stupid rules or whatever else comes to mind?

Shouldn’t. Rules are rules.

Yeah, you say, but golf has too many rules.

Nope. Golf has fewer rules than baseball, basketball, football, soccer, rugby and cricket, for that matter.

Thirty-four, that’s all.

The thing is, there must be tens of thousands of variables in those 34 and sometimes those variables can look silly.

Craig Stadler was penalized for laying out a towel to kneel on while he played a shot from beneath a bush. Improving your stance, the book says.

Lee Janzen was penalized for mopping up the dew around his ball. He had marked his ball the day before when a rainstorm ended play. He came out the next morning and before replacing his ball, he toweled off the dew around where his marker lay.

Sorry, can’t do that. That’s improving the position or lie of your ball or the line of your intended swing, says the book.

Bob Murphy hit a bunker shot that ricocheted off the face of the bunker and hit the brim of his hat.Two shot penalty.

P. H. Horgan accidentally dropped his ball onto his marker, knocking the marker from its position. He and his playing partner agreed that there should be no penalty but the next day, while Horgan was waiting to play off for the championship of the Nike Shreveport Open, he mentioned it to an official. The official informed him that he should have taken a stroke penalty. Since he hadn’t, he had signed for the wrong score and was disqualified.

Greg Chalmers got fed up with a fellow competitor’s caddy peeking into Chalmers’ bag to see what club he was hitting, which is not a violation. Finally, Chalmers snapped at him, "I hit a 6-iron, OK? Now get away from me."

Big mistake. That’s called offering advice. Chalmers later realized what he had done and contacted a rules official. Not only did he get a two-shot penalty, he was disqualified for signing for the wrong score.

Can’t recall which player, but there was one whose caddy was urging his man’s putt on toward the hole so hard a tee he had stuck behind his ear fell off into the putt’s path. The ball hit it and the rules hit the player with a penalty.

Stuff happens.

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