Seven principles of “Ready Golf”
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.