We all know a lot of the rules in golf are frustrating. In the last two seasons, it's seemed like just about every other event has had to deal with some ruling, from a bunker that isn't a bunker, to moving a divot as the ball is coming back towards you, to last weekend, when Webb Simpson went to tap in a par putt as his ball moved. He landed a one-shot penalty, and it cost him a chance to win the Zurich Classic outright, eventually falling to Bubba Watson in a playoff.
Simpson has been vocal about how ridiculous the rule, 18-2b, is, saying he, "doesn't think it's a good rule," and, "when wind or other natural things affect the golf ball, the player shouldn't be penalized." Good news for Webb, because it seems that exact rule might be modified before 2012.
According to USGA's vice president Thomas O'Toole, a change is in the works that would keep a player from getting penalized if an outside agent (wind, gravity) was the reason the ball moved, not the fact that a player grounded his putter.
My question is simple; how in the world can this be judged? Like instant replay in football, some calls are judgement calls and some aren't. If a player fixes a pitch mark off the green, and that's caught on camera, he should be penalized. But a ball moving because of an outside agent? It seems too hard to enforce, and with way too much gray area for each case to be handled the same. How do we know wind or gravity moved Webb's ball on Sunday? Maybe him placing his putter down was the reason. Do I think that? No, but I don't know, and neither is a rules official standing 100 yards away from the green.
I like that the USGA and the R&A are trying to make some changes to the rules, and I think it is good for the game, but this one seems like a stretch. Sometimes, the ball is going to roll, and if you don't like that, do what Jack Nicklaus did and never ground your putter.