Last month at Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland during the first round of the British Open, David Duval took 14 strokes on a single hole thereby besting the previous high score ever recorded (an 11) by a whopping 3 strokes. How could this happen to a man once ranked #1 in the world? The answer is simple. David Duval failed to adequately mark his ball to distinguish it from all other balls being played. As a result, after a poor tee shot, he played the remainder of the hole with the wrong ball. Upon discovering his rules violation, he had to return to the tee and replay the entire hole.
Now for me, the highlight of any week is playing 9 holes of golf early in the morning with my four sons and daughter-in-law who may love the game more than all of us guys. We share many laughs those mornings because the competition is so fierce that a 10-page document,
The Hudson Rules of Golf, has evolved to define our standard bets, late fees, records, penalties, regulations, acceptable excuses versus melt-downs, and achievements. This has become necessitated to eliminate arguments on the course and speed up play.
For example, in “Hudson Golf” there are no “gimmes.” Nothing comes free; it must be earned; and it’s amazing how often a simple 2-foot straight putt for three skins is badly missed by a quivering golfer under pressure. At the conclusion of each round we have coffee, settle debts (which have a limit of $10 per person plus penalty fees for late arrival), and hilariously debate more rules, infractions, and clarifications.
One rule threatened only by the most vile, desperate, nearly-defeated player out of all other options is to suggest an opponent has used an unmarked ball, thereby inflicting a 2-stroke penalty.
Now, the rules do not restrict the artistic forms of marking one’s ball; the mark must simply be distinguishable from all other golf balls (
including your own) being played on the course. As a worst case scenario, imagine a tee shot that drifted into tall rough and may be lost. Also imagine, as required, that same golfer hitting a provisional ball marked identically to his original ball. It also lands near the same spot. No matter which identically-marked ball is found, it must be assumed to be the provisional ball, thereby incurring a 2-stroke penalty. Ouch!
Personally, my grandkids have protected me against such a despicable accusation by one of my own beloved-but-highly-competitive family members. On Father’s Day, my 6-year-old granddaughter Kaila and 4-year-old grandson Brooks each gave me a sleeve of 3-balls individually and distinctively pre-marked by them. I thought artists and golfers alike would appreciate their efforts. Here they are.