Rulebook: Let’s Review – Increasing Your Rules Knowledge In Challenging Times

by Rich McLean, Golf Canada Rules Official (@LobWedge)

Bobby Jones and Arnold Palmer are famously quoted regarding the space between a golfer’s ears as being the most important part of the game. In some measure, this should also apply to our knowledge of the rules. With most of the world still unable to get out on the course, let’s take time to explore the resources we golfers have available to help exercise those five-and-a-half to six inches of grey matter they spoke of. 

The Apps 

Nearly everyone I know carries either a smartphone or tablet with them wherever they go. A world of knowledge and contacts at your fingertips. An app for almost everything, including the Rules of Golf. Both the R&A (randa.org) and USGA (usga.org) have rules apps available to download on either iOS and Android devices that allow golfers to have rules-to-go anywhere on or off the course, instead of having to carry a hard copy of the book along with you. 

The R&A version is available in at least ten languages, contains both the Players and Full Rules editions, and allows the user to search either by text or an interactive graphic that illustrates the different areas of the course. Or, you can just browse the rules the old-fashioned way, in order by section and number. The app also includes all of the current rules Interpretations and Committee Procedures as resources for Referees to use during tournament play, and a section of the Top 10 rules essentials that we most commonly encounter on the golf course. Another feature of the app is a rules quiz section, where you can choose 18 multiple-choice rules questions in either Beginner, Intermediate or Advanced categories to test your rules knowledge. The answer key at the end of each quiz also offers links within the rules that allow you to navigate to the section of the rules from where each answer is derived. A great plus for this app is that it can also be used in “offline” mode, so that you can look up rules without a Wi–Fi or data connection. 

The USGA app is also feature-rich, featuring both Players and Full Rules editions (you need to toggle to Expert Mode in the settings tab to get to the full rules version), allowing the user to interactively explore a whole range of rules topics, get the latest rules updates, view videos, articles and photos of many the many of the same subjects and info-cards available to golfers on their website. The only limitation of this app that I’ve found is that it requires you to be connected to either Wi-Fi or data in order to access the features beyond the regular rules sections. That being said, if you’re connected, this is a very powerful source for everything rules-related. The real strength of this app is the ability to access the vaunted USGA Rules quiz question database. A vault of hundreds of questions, where you can choose between Basic, Intermediate and Advanced levels, while challenging yourself to either 10, 18 or even 25 questions at a time. Every referee in the game has used this database at some point to either study for a rules exam, or just bone-up on their knowledge. 

The Websites 

Through their websites, Golf Canada (golfcanada.ca), the R&A and USGA have all of the rules information you see in the apps, along with the latest updates on our game, timely articles, access to rules quizzes, as well as links to Province/State associations so that you can keep up on all of the latest golf updates in your region (especially important in these times). 

There are also links in the Golf Canada Rules section for anyone who wants to explore increasing their rules knowledge by becoming a tournament-certified Referee at the local, provincial and national levels. It’s a great way to get involved, and we can always use more hands (and eyes) out there. 

So, while you’re dreaming about getting back out on the course or working on your putting/short-game around the house, take the opportunity to exercise your “brain muscles” too by exploring the different rules resources available to you, so we can all hit the ground swinging when we get the all-clear. 

Take care, stay safe, and I’ll see you out there soon enough!

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