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USGA Golf vs. SortaGolf vs. TeeGolf

By Charles Hopkins Published 05/27/2007 | Sports

With the plateauing of the golf population around the world, many people are leaving the game of golf. They leave because of the cost (clubs plus greens fees) and the admitted difficulty of the game.

People become frustrated when they can't play to some standard, usually set by professional golfers and the stated par on all golf courses. Very few golfers are scratch golfers; probably less than 1% can claim to be scratch golfers, if that.

Also, few recreational golfers or casual golfers play strictly by the United States Golf Association (USGA) or the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, Scotland (R&A) rules. It would be interesting to see what percent of golfers actually try to play be all the rules. It's likely very low.

Golfers take Mulligans, improve their lies, and take "gimmes." That's the reality.

We say "so what?"

Enter SortaGolf and TeeGolf.

SortaGolf was created by Donn Glenn a number of years ago basically to free recreational and casual golfers from the strict and hard-to-remember golf rules established by the United States Golf Association (USGA). He is the commissioner of the SortaGolf Association of America.

TeeGolf was created by Chuck Peterson in 2003 as another attempt to help recreational and casual golfers enjoy the game and just have fun golfing. His title is Head TeeGolfer.

This article contrasts some of the major differences between USGA golf, SortaGolf, and TeeGolf.

1. One common luxury many recreational golfers indulge in is hitting a Mulligan if they don't like their initial golf stroke.

USGA golf: No Mulligans! You can take a provisional ball if you think your ball will be lost. If you can't find your initial ball, you can play the provisional ball. If you find your initial ball, you can play it and ignore the provisional ball.

Or you can just take another stroke that will count against your final score.

SortaGolf: You can take one Mulligan per round. Assumed is that at round of golf equals 18 holes. Assumed is that the Mulligan doesn't count against the golfer's final score. The Mulligan can only be taken from the tee.

TeeGolf: Golfers can take 3 Mulligans per 9-hole round. Thus, 6 Mulligans per 18-hole round. This makes sense since most recreational or casual golfers play only 9 holes much of the time. The Mulligans don't count against the golfer's final score. Plus, they can be taken at any point on the golf course: tee box, fairway, rough, bunker, or green.

2. Some golfers use tees on other parts of the golf course than the tee box.

USGA golf: No tees permitted except on the tee box.

SortaGolf: Use of tees not addressed but assume that they can be used since recreational golfers are out for fun, not competition.

TeeGolf: Golfers may use a tee any place on the golf course except the greens.

3. Many golfers, when they're out for fun, take "gimmes" when their golf ball is within a certain distance from the cup.

USGA golf: No "gimmes" allowed.

SortaGolf: "Gimmes" allowed, in fact, encouraged.

TeeGolf: "Gimmes" not encouraged, but allowed between playing partners.

4. Often golfers improve their lies.

USGA golf: A golfer must play their ball where it lies, with some exceptions.

SortaGolf: Golfers may move their ball within one golf club length no closer to the pin.

TeeGolf: Golfers may move their ball as far back on a line from the pin through the original lie of the ball as they want within one club length on either side of that line. Plus, they can place the ball on a tee if they want.

5. Recreational golfers use all sorts of golf clubs and golf balls.

USGA golf: The USGA regulates the type of golf clubs that can be used. It maintains a list of "nonconforming" golf clubs that drive the ball too far. Also, certain golf balls are not approved for play for the very same reason. Plus, a golfer may only carry a maximum of 14 golf clubs.

SortaGolf: Golfers may use any golf clubs and golf balls they desire. No limit on the number of golf clubs.

TeeGolf: Golfers may use any golf clubs or golf balls they desire. No limit on the number of golf clubs.

6. Some recreational golfers only take so many strokes over par.

USGA golf: No allowance for a maximum score on each golf hole.

SortaGolf: Golfers only have to take a score of two strokes over the par for any given hole.

TeeGolf: No allowance for a maximum score on each golf hole.

There are other differences between USGA golf rules, SortaGolf rules, or TeeGolf rules. But these will not be covered here.

Basically, SortaGolf and TeeGolf, considered alternative golf games, have been invented to give the average recreational or casual golfer a chance to play the game of golf without all the restrictions and hard-to-grasp rules of the USGA. Nothing against the USGA.

But the revised rules should help the recreational golfer feel less guilty about not playing strictly by the USGA rules.

And why should they feel guilty? If somebody asks why they are not playing by the rules, they can tell them that they're playing another golf game: either SortaGolf or TeeGolf.

End of story.