For those who love learning about the rules

October 25, 2013

Golfers can be divided into two types. There are those who really, really like to understand and follow the official Rules of Golf, and there are those who don't feel that urge nearly as intently.

For those in the first category, the United States Golf Association just announced the perfect thing to do in the off season, now that it approaches.

Cosponsoring with the Professional Golf Association, the long-running organization is holding another series of multiple-day Rules of Golf Workshops, beginning in early January 2014.

Both the two-day sessions and three-and-a-half-day sessions are led by a pair of instructors. One is affiliated with the USGA, and the other is affiliated with the PGA.

The two-day workshops cover the basics, including an overview of the 34 rules, how the decisions on the rules are arranged, and a glossary of the terms used in the rules.

The organizers will focus on fundamentals such as match and stroke play differences, common relief situations under the rules, and playing the course as the players find it.

The three-and-a-half-day session also discusses more than 100 decisions which explain how to apply the rules in both common and unusual circumstances. Online access to the USGA University also comes with the $300 fee, as well as copies of the latest editions of the rules, the decisions, and Robert Tufts' "Principles Behind the Rules of Golf."

Those attending the two-day session also receive copies of the same publications and the online access for their $150 fee.

Online registration began Oct. 22, and phone-in registration begins Oct. 28. The 21 sessions are spread out across the country from Jan. 3 through April 1. This year, the closest sessions to the Cape Region are at Charleston, W.Va., and the USGA's headquarters in Far Hills, N.J.

For the truly dedicated, some of the three-and-a-half-day sessions are set aside for those who have already scored a minimum 85 on a 100-question PGA/USGA Rules of Golf Workshop exam in the last four years. According to the press release, the format for these programs shrinks the time spent on individual rules, "In order to allow for additional content and more in-depth and nuanced discussion of applicable issues and topics relating to those rules."

The folks who attend these rules workshops take the game seriously. Many end up serving on competition committees at their local clubs. They also serve a valuable volunteer role for the more serious amateur and occasionally professional tournaments such as the U.S. Open and the U.S. Women's Open.

Good for them - and for us.

Think about golf clubs now instead of spring

For many Cape Region golfers, the fall is when their golf swings and games are at their peak of performance. They have had all spring and summer to dial in their usual distances for each club, and perhaps have identified some unmet needs to fill in the distance gaps that may have appeared during the season.

For those golfers, I suggest a visit to their favorite PGA professional, their golf club's pro shop or golf equipment outlets such as Ruddo's on Route 1 near Midway.

Working with the professional staff, golfers can take advantage of their current skills to find the right clubs to address their needs, be it a new wedge, a fairway wood or hybrid, or even a new driver.

The shop owners and pros will be glad to receive your patronage. In addition, you might see some end-of-season bargains to whet your appetite.

It is true that golf club makers tend to come out with the new models as spring arrives. On the other hand, few golfers can really appreciate how a new club can meet their needs when their game still has a lot of wintertime rust sticking to it.

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