Are you a purist golfer? A purist golfer will try to abide by every rule put forth by the United States Golf Association (USGA) and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, Scotland (R&A).
Of the approximately 37 million golfers in the United States (anybody who golfs at least once a year) 5 million have handicaps. We'll assume that these golfers try their best to adhere to the rules of golf. That leaves 32 million golfers who don't have a handicap. How many of them are dedicated to following the rules completely?
In a recent survey it was found that only 27% of golfers follow the USGA and R&A golf rules completely. They may try, but as we've found in the professional tournaments that there are a number of infractions of the rules. So the question is, "How many golfers actually golf without any infraction of the rules?" Probably not many.
And when you add in the fact that the vast majority of golf rounds are played for fun, you realize that perhaps players aren't so concerned about playing absolutely by the rules.
So what are the most common infractions (deliberate or unintentional) of golf rules?
1. Not playing in the order designated by the rules (golfers don't adhere to the "away" rule and play when they're ready)
2. Improving their lies (using the "foot wedge")
3. Taking a Mulligan (if it's a provisional ball, that's alright. However, if they take a Mulligan and don't count it, that's an infraction and should be penalized.)
4. Rather than taking a drop, golfers will place the ball on the ground in a good location for their next shot.
5. Pick up their golf balls to find out if that's their golf ball.
6. Ground their clubs on the fairway, in the bunker, and in the rough. (If the ball moves, they should take a penalty.)
7. When the golfer hits the golf ball into the rough and can't find it, they don't go back to the tee box to hit another ball. They just drop or place the ball where they think the ball should have been. Called stroke and distance.
There are other rules that are commonly broken, but these cover most of the instances.
There are many who claim that if a golfer doesn't abide by the complete rules, that they are cheating. And in a way they are. Any game where a player doesn't abide by the rules can be considered cheating.
However, if you're out to have some fun, and you're not competing with anybody else and you're not trying to compare your score with previous scores, what's the problem?
For example, if you are playing some basketball in your driveway with one of your children, do you have to abide by the rules of basketball? It's not the same game. Plus, you're out to just have some fun.
Of course, if you're competing, you need to abide by the rules.
Now, if you want to be a little more formal about NOT abiding by the formal rules of golf, you can consider playing SortaGolf or TeeGolf. Neither of these forms of golf have tournaments, but they do make the game of golf easier and have set rules that you can use.
Most of us golfers just enjoy getting out in the fresh air, challenging ourselves, and enjoying time with our friends.