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Barry Rhodes On The Rules Of Golf Interview, 16 Jun 2009
Length:: 6:21 Mins
I talked to 8 Barry Rhodes author of 999 Questions on the Rules of Golf
about how the Royal & Ancient in St. Andrews became responsible for administering the Rules of Golf.
He explains how in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries there were many different rules, as each Club developed had their own versions. This obviously led to difficulties and in 1897, by common agreement of the existing clubs, most of who were in Britain, the Royal & Ancient Golf Club (R&A) were asked to take control of the Rules. The first international set of Rules was then published in 1899.
The United States Golf Association (USGA) also adopted the R&A Rules and published them for American golfers in 1900. However the two golfing bodies then went their separate ways for the next 50 years.
As Barry states in the video, itt is important to stress that there aren't two sets of Rules.
In 1952 the R&A and USGA agreed to co-operate to produce a unified set of Rules for worldwide use and this is the situation today. The two bodies meet regularly and agree on any changes to the Rules, which occur every four years, and any new or changed Decisions on the Rules, which are published every two years.
There's just one difference between the two and to the majority of us it's of little relevance. There is no limit to the value of prize that an amateur player may receive for a hole-in-one in the USA or Mexico, which are governed by the USGA, but for the rest of the world the R&A limits the value of prize that a player may receive for a hole-in-one to just £500.
Like many golfers I often ask myself why are there so many Rules and Decisions. On this occassion Barry reminded me that there are more than 60 million people playing golf, in almost every country in the world, in all sorts of climates and playing conditions. So the Rules have to cover everything that could possibly happen to the player and his ball on the course.
As we know it's an impossible task for most players to learn all of the Rules. In fact Barry has spent more than ten years getting to grips with the Rules and Decisions on the Rules and still learning.
However, I'm sure that if you have watched or played any game regularly, such as soccer, pool, trivial pursuits or even poker, you'll have witnessed arguments as to whether a particular play is valid, or not. Sooner or later players have to check, or establish, rules so that they can compete fairly against each other on a level playing field. There's only one game of golf, with a universal set of Rules, and if that's the game that you want to play then you have to respect and abide by all of them, so as to preserve the integrity of this wonderful game.
In conclusion I asked Barry how would recommend players get a better understanding of the Rules?
"Well, the easy answer to that question would be to recommend that every golfer should carry a book of Rules in their pocket, which they regularly take out, read and digest. But I know that's not going to happen. Most players learn from the situations that they experience on the course. Every time something new crops up they discuss it afterwards in the bar, or the Pro Shop, until they are satisfied that they know the right answer. To assist golfers everywhere I've taken this to the next step and written a book containing 999 questions on the Rules of Golf with answers, references to the Rule, or Decision, number and explanations, where required. I've covered the myriad situations that can occur on the golf course and have included an index so that golfers can easily find the relevant Q&As for the situation that they are interested in."