Pandemic Rules of J-Golf

As most J-Golf players know, we implemented a few special rules that will remain in effect during the pandemic. The intent of these transient rules is to both make play safer and to introduce an element of fairness that normally wouldn’t be necessary.

Bunker Footprint Rule

For example, the Bunker Footprint Rule will remain in effect as long as bunkers lack rakes. Over the course of the day, many players end up in the sand bunkers around the course and when exiting, they have no way to properly repair footprints, swing divots, or any other perturbations that may appear in the bunkers. If there is justice in golf (which there isn’t, but that’s another story), a player shouldn’t be penalized for ending up in a deep footprint that under normal circumstances, wouldn’t be there.

The end result is that when playing J-Golf … If your ball ends up in a sand bunker, you may lift, clean, and place your ball at a spot within a reasonable distance of where the ball initially came to rest without penalty.

Some have argued that this rule should apply only when your ball actually comes to rest within a footprint. That begs the question, “What is a footprint?” Most footprints are most obvious, but some may be less obtrusive than others, some left from the prior day’s play that have been partially smoothed over, others visible only in the minds of wishful participants. To remove all disputes and arguments, the rule shall apply to the entire area of any and all sand bunkers on the course. Some golfers refuse to take advantage of the rule and those golfers will be given gold stars at season’s end.

The Benevolent Scorekeeper Rule

The pandemic rule that is arguably the most controversial is the Benevolent Scorekeeper Rule. For those golfers that joined the group after the onset of the pandemic or those with shaky memories, here’s the clarification of the rule.

In all of our matches, we PUTT’EM OUT, subject to the B.S.R. We have no such thing as a “gimme”, however, from your previous lives, you remember gimmes. Depending upon your golfing partner’s collective definitions of “gimme distance”, you would occasionally hear another golfer say, “That’s good. Pick it up.” That distance tended to grow every time you missed a two-footer. The next thing you knew, a three-footer was good. Then on to the four-footer.

In the J-Golf group, the ball goes into the hole, but … If a player walks up to a ball that is clearly within what “other groups” consider gimme-dstance, then slaps at it or cavalierly tries to tap the ball into the hole and misses, then he, AT THE OPTION OF THE SCOREKEEPER, MAY REPLACE THE BALL AND MAKE A SERIOUS ATTEMPT AT MAKING THE PUTT. If – in the judgment of the scorekeeper – the player DID NOT make a serious attempt in the first attempt, the player gets to now replace the ball once and only once and replay the stroke.

If the player clearly lined up the putt by either plumb-bobbing, squatting and getting “the read”, looking at the line from multiple directions, and took the customary stance in an earnest attempt to hole the putt, it is incumbent upon the scorekeeper to record the stroke as a missed putt.

Note that:

  • At the scorekeeper’s option, you get one and only one retry.
  • A slap at a fifteen-footer ISN’T eligible for B.S.R. The ball must be within the distance a “reasonable golfer” would consider “gimme distance”. (I always try and put one reasonable player in every group – when possible.)
  • If the first attempt was obviously a serious attempt to make the putt, B.S.R. does NOT come into play.

If, in a team game, a player is out of the hole and picks up a twenty-footer, feel free to let him build an artificially low handicap. Later on, listen sympathetically as he bitches about never winning any money. Just smile, but don’t tell him the trick of counting all your strokes. It’ll just cost the rest of us money.

Author: h. Alton Jones


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