You show up at a golf tournament on the first day of play. You warm up a little bit. You hit some putts to get the feel. You make sure you've got something in your stomach before you head to the first tee. When you show up, you get handed a few things, including a pin sheet for the day and a scorecard.
In the tent there is a sheet of local rules for the week. Most caddies snag one for their players, but for full disclosure, hardly ever check it closely.
Ryuji Imada won't be one of those players anymore. At the Mission Hills Star Trophy tournament in China, Imada was administered 26 shots in penalty strokes because he didn't pay close enough attention to the rules.
You see, the Blackstone course was wet, so they decided to let the players lift and clean their golf balls through the green. Imada was doing that fine, but in Europe and Asia, you only get a scorecard's length from where the ball originally was. In the States, it is always a club length.
"I’m an idiot," said Imada, who admitted he had not read the local rules sheet.
If he hadn't gotten all those penalties, he would have been tied for the lead, but at least he didn't pull a Nick Faldo.
Sir Nick, obviously not in tournament form by any means, just picked his golf ball up on the eighth green, forgetting that there was a professionals-only competition going on as well as the pro-am format, and was promptly disqualified.
So, this is your yearly Devil Ball reminder that reading the rules sheet might not be the most exciting thing to do before teeing off, but it probably won't hurt.
Oh, and Europe and Asia ... a scorecard's length? Come on, why in the world you gotta be so confusing?