Welcome to week five of Chip Shots. What exactly is “Chip Shots,” you say?

Well, have you ever been on a golf course and had the sudden urge to explain a dangling participle to one of your fellow golfers? Of course you have.

Or, perhaps, while you were fumbling through your explanation of said dangling participle, did you mistakenly play the wrong ball, or (gasp!) ground your club in a lateral hazard? I know; silly question. Don’t we all?

Ah, yes, you’re at the right place. No participles are dangling in this week’s column, but I will venture into the crazy, chaotic world of which versus that. (For a quick summary of what this column is about, go here. Or to see past Chip Shots columns, visit here.)

But, first, let’s talk golf rules.

Don’t Dare Ground That Club

So this is like Golf Rules 101, a rule I learned early in my playing days.

Why do I get the feeling this guy broke a rule or two?

Why do I get the feeling this guy broke a rule or two?

But I can’t say everyone knows this one, or either they simply choose not to follow it. Whatever the case, let me say this: Don’t ground your club in a bunker.

Pretty basic stuff, really. But, unless the public course down the street has a local rule I’m not aware of, every other golfer out there either chooses to ignore this basic rule or simply doesn’t know it.

Come on. As I’ve said before, if you’re breaking the fundamental rules of the game, then don’t brag about your score–or simply don’t even keep score–because it’s not legit. And let’s hope you’re not turning in these scores as part of your handicap. Shame. Shame.

Rule 13-4 in the USGA handbook says you can’t ground the club in a hazard or bunker. So you probably should not do that. Don’t move a loose impediment, either. Michelle Wie learned about that the hard way.

I’m really not a rules nazi. If you want to break the rules, then go for it. But I simply get annoyed when golfers boast about their scores after four or five rules were broken over the course of the round. You don’t have to be a Tour player to know, and follow, the basics.

Speaking of the basics, what about grammar?

Which versus That

This grammar rule is a little more technical than some of my past topics, but I’ll do my best to sufficiently explain.

That belongs in restrictive clauses. To quote my grammar hero, Grammar Girl: “A restrictive clause is just part of a sentence that you can’t get rid of because it specifically restricts some other part of the sentence.”

Here’s an example: Driving ranges that use golf mats suck.

So, you see, the phrasing “that use golf mats” restricts the driving ranges I’m talking about to those that use the fake turf which jars my shoulder after every swing. Without that phrase, I’d simply be saying “Driving ranges suck.” Not true, of course, and completely changes the meaning of the sentence.

Make sense? I’m specifically saying that the driving ranges that use mats suck, not the other, more cool, driving ranges. The that clause helps me emphasize that opinion.

Which belongs in nonrestrictive clauses.

Back to our friend, Grammar Girl, who says, “A nonrestrictive clause is something that can be left off without changing the meaning of the sentence.”

An example: Pebble Beach Golf Club, which is ranked the number one public course in the world, is a spectacular layout designed by Jack Neville and Douglas Grant.

In this sentence, you could take out the nonrestrictive clause (“which is ranked…”) without changing the meaning. Follow?

Think of nonrestrictive clauses as a parenthetical, something you would put in parentheses. You can live without them, but they may add a little to your copy as well.

So that’s it for week five. Feel free to post your much-valued thoughts and opinions below. Or email me at robert.bruce@gameunderrepair.com.