Seven prin­ci­ples of “Ready Golf”

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Contents - By Stu­art McLean, Edi­tor stu­art.mclean@new­me­di­a­pub.co.za

Some golf clubs in other parts of the world are al­ready tak­ing the pro­posed new R&A rules changes for 2019 to heart, and tri­alling them out among their mem­bers. The Royal & An­cient Golf Club of St An­drews, which first gave us the con­cept of an 18-hole course more than 250 years ago, adopted the prin­ci­ples of “Ready Golf” at their re­cent Spring Meet­ing on the Old Course.

Any­one who has played golf on the Old Course knows that Pace of Play is strictly mon­i­tored by mar­shalls. In R&A com­pe­ti­tions, ev­ery group is given tar­get times to com­plete 18 holes, and it’s usu­ally in the vicin­ity of four hours. (The half­way house on the Old Course is a mo­bile van be­hind the tenth tee where you can quickly grab a sand­wich and a drink, usu­ally hot rather than cold, which means no time is wasted.)

So it makes per­fect sense that the R&A would wish to pro­mote “Ready Golf” as soon as it could. Seven ex­am­ples were listed on a spe­cial card for com­peti­tors. For those South African golf clubs which might wish to of­fi­cially try them out here in their own com­pe­ti­tions, th­ese read as fol­lows: 1. Hit­ting a shot when safe to do so if a player fur­ther away faces a chal­leng­ing shot and is tak­ing time to as­sess their op­tions; 2. Shorter hit­ters play­ing first from the tee or fair­way if longer hit­ters have to wait; 3. Hit­ting a tee shot if the per­son with the hon­our is de­layed in be­ing ready to play; 4. Hit­ting a shot be­fore help­ing some­one to look for a lost ball; 5. Putting out even if it means stand­ing close to some­one else’s line; 6. Hit­ting a shot if a per­son who has just played from a green­side bunker is still fur­thest from the hole but is de­layed due to rak­ing the bunker; 7. When a player’s ball has gone over the back of a green, any player closer to the hole but chip­ping from the front of the green should play while the other player is hav­ing to walk to their ball and as­sess their shot. Th­ese ex­am­ples are not unknown to us, and are com­monly em­ployed in so­cial games where speedy play is of the essence – no­tably the 8-ball Com­man­dos played at Royal Jo­han­nes­burg & Kens­ing­ton. What the R&A are clearly say­ing is “Don’t be shy about play­ing as soon as you are ready, even if out of turn.”

There was one hu­mor­ous mo­ment at the Spring Meet­ing as com­peti­tors ar­rived on the first tee and were in­formed about the “Ready Golf ” prin­ci­ples by the starter. One of the more ea­ger mem­bers took the in­struc­tions a bit too read­ily. “I’m ready,” he an­nounced, push­ing oth­ers aside, tee­ing his ball up and tak­ing a prac­tice swing. He had to be re­strained by the starter, as the group in front were still walk­ing to their drives.The idea of “Ready Golf” clearly re­quired some fur­ther ex­pla­na­tion.

An­other com­peti­tor in the Spring Meet­ing, hav­ing fin­ished his medal round, then had to dash off by train to Ed­in­burgh to visit his son at the univer­sity, be­fore then catch­ing a flight home to London. In Ed­in­burgh he re­alised his score­card was still in his back pocket. Not a golfer who wished to be dis­qual­i­fied af­ter all that ef­fort, he took a photograph of the card, and promptly sub­mit­ted the ev­i­dence by email back to the R&A.

The game is cer­tainly mov­ing on in a pro­gres­sive fash­ion.

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