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By The Book

Golf's rules of the game confuse many players but preserve the sport's integrity
Jeff Williams
From the Print Edition:
Dennis Haysbert, Nov/Dec 2006

(continued from page 1)

Later that year, after the tragic death of Stewart in a plane crash, Meeks gave a rules seminar at the Tournament Players Club at Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra, Florida, and Tour player Fred Funk showed up. Funk was asked about the sand-filled divot issue. Meeks relates Funk's answer.

"He said, 'At a PGA Tour players meeting with commissioner Tim Finchem, Greg Norman says, "Mr. Commissioner, I think the Tour should adopt a local rule that we get relief from sand-filled divots." Payne Stewart pops up and says, 'I disagree. I think we should practice those shots.'"

When Meeks heard that, he had a heartfelt response: "All I could do was look up to heaven and say, 'Thanks Payne.'"

But even Meeks, who doesn't want to be known as a rules curmudgeon among the members of his club in Indianapolis, knows that everyday players often disregard the rules. "I gave a talk once and a woman came up to me and says, 'I'm going to continue to play golf the way I play, and I do break a lot of rules.' I said, 'Ma'am, I want you to respect what I'm saying about the rules. On the other hand, I'm going to respect what you just said. If the only way you can play is to break some rules, the only way you can have fun playing the game, then you go ahead and play that way.' I don't want anybody to give up playing the game because they don't like the rules."

Yet Tom Kite will tell you that if you are at all serious about golf—and especially if you play it competitively—you have to play by the rules. If you don't, you aren't really playing golf, and worse, you aren't being a stand-up person. "There's one thing about golf," says Kite. "If you get the reputation as a cheater, nobody is going to want to play with you. It's absolutely essential that if you are a golfer, you know the rules and play by them."

Jeff Williams is a contributing editor of Cigar Aficionado.

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