Website Devoted to Simplifying the Rules of Golf Launched

With the goal of stimulating sincere discussion on simplifying the Rules of Golf, the website has been launched.

"After hearing, for so many years, that the Rules of Golf are too complicated, we thought it would be interesting to see just how much room for simplification and improvement there actually is," said David Hayes, one of the website's two authors. "We had not looked at the Rules before with the express goal of simplification and thought there was a fair chance that we would find it difficult to simplify the Rules without significantly changing the game. Throughout the project we were mindful of the history and traditions of the game, and we want the game in 25 years to be recognizable to today's golfers. In that regard we had to make certain decisions as to which aspects of the games and the Rules need to be retained."

"David and I are certainly biased, but we believe that the current Rules of Golf are just about as straightforward as they can be — for the results they offer, that is," said John Morrissett, the site's other author. "Early on, we found that there actually is ample room for simplification if certain philosophical changes are embraced."

"David and I do not want people to look at this project as a call for bifurcation of the Rules. We strongly believe that bifurcation is a terrible idea and is in direct conflict with the project's goal of a simpler set of rules. If people today complain that the current Rules of Golf are too complicated to understand, imagine the confusion that would exist if there were two separate sets of rules."

The website is centered around two different versions of the Rules of Golf. Code One is based on the current Rules and, while containing a number of changes (many significant), may not at first glance appear to be a dramatic departure from the current Rules. Code Two, on the other hand, offers a substantially different alternative, with the game being based on a points system (similar to Stableford). This format allows for further simplification in the Rules. For example, the penalty for a ball that is lost or out of bounds becomes no points earned for that hole, allowing for, among other things, the elimination of the provisional ball Rule.

Hayes and Morrissett emphasize that a number of ideas contained in the two codes are not original. For example, the elimination of dropping and the elimination of a second type of water hazard are two concepts that are occasionally brought up. However, Hayes and Morrissett believe their two codes represent the first time that such concepts have been pulled together in an entire code so that it can be seen how they interact with the other Rules.

Both Hayes and Morrissett were on the USGA's Rules staff for a number of years and worked closely with the Rules of Golf Committees of the USGA and R&A on the Rules-change process. Hayes lives in Boise, Idaho, while Morrissetts resides in Erin, Wisconsin, where he now serves as Competitions Director at Erin Hills. Please use to contact Hayes and Morrissett.

Date: 2013-07-30