Can You Bend The Rules of Golf? Here’s One Golf Rule You Can Twist A Bit.

Whether you’re a seasoned golfer or a beginner, knowing the rules of the game is an essential part of playing golf. Without the rules, the game would be a bit chaotic. Golf handicaps would not count for much and it would be impossible for people to play the game competitively with any sense of reality. So golf rules are important. But how strict are they? Can you bend the rules of golf?

Yesterday I was playing a round of golf with two women from my club, Olde Barnstable on Cape Cod. We were on the fifth hole — a par 4 that has a slight dogleg right, leading up to an elevated green. I hit my drive left cutting through the line of trees that divided the fifth fairway from the sixth fairway that runs parallel to the hole we were playing. I landed in the deep rough. Rats!

When I finally found my ball and stood over it, I was faced with a couple of options. I could play it safe, punch my second shot out of the rough and back onto the fifth fairway, or I could send caution to the wind and try and go for the green. I had a clear shot at it, but would have to clear three fairway bunkers to succeed. Of course, I went for the green, landed on the edge of the far bunker, finally chipped onto the green and putted in for a 7 or 8 or something equally horBetween The Fairwaysrible.

What I didn’t consider was a third and far smarter option.

Here’s a look at the course layout of holes 5 and 6. That red “X” marks my ball… and you can see options 1, 2 and 3!

Our group was the first out that morning. There was no one ahead of us waiting on the next tee box or in the fairway. There was no chance of hitting anyone if I chose to play my ball straight back down the sixth fairway and then, on my third shot, cut back through the trees to the fifth green below, thus avoiding all those sand bunkers. Was it a legal option? Would it be breaking the rules of golf to play my ball in the wrong direction down a neighboring fairway? No one of the three of us was sure but when we got to the turn after the ninth hole we asked the golf pro, Merry Holway.

Guess what? Playing backwards down a neighboring fairway is perfectly legal!!! Who knew! And as I am likely to hook left when I play that hole again, I’m going to keep this strategy in my back pocket for future use!

So what do you think? Would you have known it was ok to play your ball backwards? Any other obscure rules you know we can bend?

  6 comments for “Can You Bend The Rules of Golf? Here’s One Golf Rule You Can Twist A Bit.

  1. June 6, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    Yes I was aware of this rule. I have done it a number of times at my local golf course. I do however always take into account if there are other golfers playing the other hole. If it looks like it may hold play up for a while I may just stick with my own fairway to keep things moving.


  2. June 6, 2011 at 10:17 am

    Pat, Interesting topic (is it legal?) and I love the golf course graphic….nice addition. Even though I’m the least athletic person I know, you’re making me think I might want to pick up a club….

    • Pat
      June 6, 2011 at 3:26 pm

      Pick up a club Diane!!! This is why I’m writing this blog, to encourage all you women out there to play this great game. It’s a lot of fun, and there is no need to be intimidated. We all started from point zero! Get yourself to your local club and seek the advice of the golf pro, or ask a good friend who’s been playing a while to hit a few with you at the driving range. It’s worth a try for sure. All the best.

  3. Pat
    June 5, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    Dee Dee… you are right, and it would have been easy. Just didn’t think it was legal till we checked in with the pro. Now I know!

  4. Pingback: Pat Mullaly
  5. Dee Dee Grevelis
    June 4, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    While we don’t often see an open hole in front of us, in this case I think it would have been a great option for you. You could have easily hit one of your nice long shots to almost pin high on the 5th, then just chipped in. Easy, huh?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.