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This rule change would please a lot of golfers

The First Call readers are nearly unanimous in which one of the Rules of Golf they would like to see addressed — because it makes common sense

Alstom Open de France 2014
Divots on the practice range are one thing, but hitting from one in a fairway?

Question of the week [Oct. 17-23]:  If you can change one rule in golf, what would it be?

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A ball resting in an obvious divot hole should be allowed relief without penalty. Relief from an animal hole is allowed, so why not relief from a hole caused by a golfer?

Will Curry
Oakville, Ontario

The rule that needs to be changed the most in my opinion is the divot in the fairway rule. If a golfer hits his tee shot into the fairway, he/she has done what the course designer has asked of them. It's unfair — with no fault of the golfer — to have a lie in the fairway created by another golfer instead of the groundskeeper.

I've played several courses where a local "root rule" comes into effect due to tree roots in the fairway. The same should be done for divots.

Cameron Maness
Germantown, Tennessee

If a ball lands in a divot in the fairway, the ball may be moved within one foot of the original location no closer to the hole. I just believe a divot is an area under repair, and should be treated as such.

Mark Kazich
Darien, Illinois

Ball in fairway divot may be moved out of divot. 

Rationale? Player who made the divot got to play for the same spot that had no damage. This should be same for next player. You rake sand traps to restore conditions. 

Derrick Wheeler 
Lawrenceville, Georgia 

Changing golf rules:
1.  I would allow someone with an unplayable lie to take a drop at any point where that ball had been earlier on that hole with only that one-stroke penalty.

2.  I would redefine anchoring, so that it was legal to touch the club with two parts of the body. A one-handed golfer could use his hand and chest.

Howard Brazee
Lafayette, Colorado

If I could change one rule? If a ball comes to rest in the fairway in an old divot, the player shall with no penalty take a free drop within one club length of ball at rest. 

Ron Dowd
Paola, Kansas 

Drop the stroke and distance penalty for an out-of-bounds shot or a lost ball not in a penalty area. Adopt the same rule as for a ball hit into a penalty area. Drop a ball and play on.

James Brock
Atlanta, Georgia

For all levels: Change having to hit out of a divot in the fairway. 

For professional tour card players: Still sign their scorecards when there are specific markers are being used.

Joe Trueblood 
Kansas City, Missouri

I would consider divots as ground under repair and allow free relief from them.

Mike Reed
Jenison, Michigan

Perfect drive, approach or layup, only to find yourself in a divot. Especially one that was never repaired or sanded over.

PJ Goodman
Pinehurst, North Carolina

If I could change one more rule, it would be fairway divots. They would be ground under repair.  Drop within one club length, no nearer the hole. A golfer is penalized for damage done by previous golfers out of no fault of their own.

Brian Tiffany
Star, Idaho

Rule change. No hitting out of divots. Free drop or move within 4 inches.

Clay McKay 
Dundas, Ontario


I'd change the rule whereby you could move your ball if its in a divot.  It seems unfair that you're in the fairway and get penalized when it's in a divot.

Lisa Gilroy
Mississauga, Ontario

Treat balls rolling into divots as ground under repair.  While most times a half-decent shot can be hacked out, a number of times the ball is put into an almost unplayable situation.

Jamie McWilliams
Trinity, Florida

I feel the rule should be changed to allow a free drop (no nearer the hole) if a ball comes to rest in a divot in the fairway. A player who hits it in the fairway should not be penalized because of turf conditions, problems, etc.   

Greg Schenkel
Indianapolis, Indiana

The one rule I would change is having to play a ball in the fairway, but in a prior divot.

There are many rules to "protect the field," but the player who created the divot early now had an advantage over the later player(s) who ended up in that divot.

The prior divot should be considered  as ground under repair.

John Matulik
Lemont, Illinois

The provisional ball rule should be changed to include a possibly unplayable ball. 

Alan Campbell
Eyemouth, Scotland

If I could change one rule in golf, playing the ball as it lies. Why play a ball out of a divot and further destroy the fairway? Makes no sense to me. You can give the player some kind of drop, no closer to the pin.

Lewis Taylor
Chicago, Illinois

Free relief from a divot or sanded-over divot.  

Everyone hates being in the middle of the fairway or funneling into a greenside collection area, only to find that you have a bogus lie after hitting an otherwise good shot. 

Bill Ramsey
Grand Haven, Michigan

I would change the stroke and distance penalty for out of bounds shots to simply a loss of stroke.  The reason is that a stroke AND distance penalty is simply too penal, in my opinion.  Most players ignore it anyway, except for sanctioned competitions.  Also, it’s silly..because if you can estimate where a ball lost in a hazard last crossed the hazard line, why can’t you do the same for a ball that sailed out of bounds?

Mike Sullivan
Brown Deer, WIsconsin

A player hitting a ball hit into a divot in the fairway should get a free drop. It should be treated as "ground under repair." 

Steve Saunders 
San Diego, California

I would change the "play it where it lies" rule only in relation to divots. If you end up in another player's divot, you have the right to a free drop — within one club length — keeping in the same course condition.

Martha Greenhalgh
Atlantis, Florida

Eliminate stroke and distance for out of bounds. Just drop at point of departure.

Steve Seely
Lansing, Michigan

Divots would be considered ground under repair and relief would be provided.

Stuart Smith 
St. Johns, Florida

It would be a new rule, namely, "Griping about a ball landing in a fairway divot is prohibited." Why? All too often players believe they are entitled to a good lie whenever their ball is in a closely mown area (a.k.a fairway). If such a rule seems unfair, then my second choice for changing one rule is this: "A ball landing anywhere on the course except the fairway of the hole being played must be moved to a bad lie." After all, fair is fair. 

Brent Rector 
Grand Rapids, Michigan

I have always agreed with Jack Nicklaus about divots in your own fairway should be classified as ground under repair, thus allowing for lift, clean and drop. Reason being when you hit a drive or lay-up shot onto your own fairway you should not be penalized for hitting a perfect shot that lands into someone else’s divot.

Bob Gillespie 
Toronto, Ontario

Sand-filled divots should be ground under repair.

Alex Vallianos 
Fishers, Indiana

Taking a drop from divots.

Brian Nelson
North Haven, Connecticut

Just as once you mark a ball on the green you "own" that spot should the ball move, the same should apply after placing your ball after a drop (in accordance with the
Rules of Golf) and the ball rolls back into a penalty area. You should also "own" that spot.

Steve Braun
Charlevoix, Michigan

It has to be allowing a free drop for a ball in the fairway that comes to rest in a divot. If that isn’t ground under repair I don’t know what would be.

Ron Kratofil
Delmont, Pennsylvania

I believe sand-filled divots in the fairway should be considered ground under repair. Let’s say a 3-foot x 3-foot area in the fairway required a heavy top dressing of sand — the greens staff would apply the sand and mark the area as GUR. What is the difference?

Peter Boyce
Strathroy, Ontario

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