Chip Shots Column

Welcome to the 11th edition of Chip Shots—your friendly golf and grammar column. To read past versions, or to try and make sense of this nonsensical column, click here.

Today, I’d like to write a special Christmas edition of Chip Shots. But let’s be honest—do you really need your golf and grammar to be Christmasized (not a word, by the way)?

Of course not. So let’s get on with it.

Michelle Wie’s Rule Mishap

Michelle Wie recently earned her 2009 LPGA tour card. After a tumultuous 2008, congrats to Wie for bouncing back and having a stellar Q School.

Playing on such a grand stage at such a young age, Wie has often found herself mired in controversy—whether it’s about injuries, commitment, meddling parents, or rules violations.


Image: Cory.Lum/Flickr

One such rules situation occurred at the 2005 LPGA Samsung World Championship. Wie, then 16, illegally dropped after taking an unplayable lie on the 7th hole of the tournament’s third round.

Rule 20-7 outlines the proper procedure for taking an unplayable lie. The key point being—don’t drop the ball closer to the hole. Unfortunately for Wie, a Sports Illustrated writer, Michael Bamberger, witnessed Wie drop the ball about one pace closer to the hole.

Bamberger faced an unusual situation. He could act like it never happened, which I’m sure he contemplated overnight. Or he could be the reporter who influenced the outcome of a golf tournament. Neither appeared too desirable. But Bamberger was confident in what he witnessed.

Honest mistake by Wie, I’m sure. But, nonetheless, Wie later signed for a one under 71 and was later disqualified. She cried. She accepted blame. But, still, a tough situation for a 16 year old to go through so early in her career.

This situation received a lot of press several years ago. But, though it’s an old story, it deserves discussion here because it illustrates the importance of the drop.

If you’re in a tournament, remember Michelle Wie! No closer to the hole!

Affect Versus Effect

I think most people understand this one. But it’s a subject worth mentioning.

When do you use affect and effect? The quick answer is affect is a verb, and effect is a noun.

Affect means “to influence” something. An example: Cold, wet weather always negatively affects my golf game. Or Tiger Woods’ presence at a tournament affects television ratings.

Effect basically means “result.” Think of “cause and effect.” An example: What kind of effect do you think Tiger Woods comeback will have on the 2009 Tour season?

Simple enough. There are exceptions—aren’t there always exceptions? But that should cover the basics of affect and effect.

So there you have it. As always, send hate mail to

Until next time…

This is a special quotes edition of Chip Shots.

My coworkers and I recently selected some quotes about writing to display on the walls in our department.

The purpose is threefold: to decorate, to inspire, and to entertain. We selected three quotes, all of which, I believe, are darn good. They both inspire us and remind us of what we’re paid to do.

Anybody can write words on a page. But it’s the job of the writer, and the editor, to make the reader comfortable. The better the writing, the less work for the reader.

This week, I thought I’d simply list the three quotes we selected–consider this the grammar or writing section of this Chip Shots column–as well as some great quotes about golf.

I’m not a big quotes kind of guy. Too often, quotes tend to become cliches because they are so often overused. But I think these are unique and worth listing here.

So, there you have it.

On Writing

When something can be read without great effort, great effort has gone into its writing. -Enrique Jardiel Poncela

You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what’s burning inside you. And we edit to let the fire show through the smoke. – Arthur Polotnik

Proofread carefully to see if you any words out. -Author Unknown

On Golf

Golf, like measles, should be caught young, for, if postponed to riper years, the results may be serious. – P.G. Wodehouse

Golf is like a love affair. If you don’t take it seriously, it’s no fun; if you do take it seriously, it breaks your heart. – Arthur Daley

Golf can be defined as an endless series of tragedies obscured by the occasional miracle. – Author Unknown

Hope everyone had a relaxing Thanksgiving.

After a brief, four-day hiatus, Game Under Repair is back with its ninth edition of the ever-popular Chip Shots column—a forced attempt to make the once opposed worlds of golf rules and grammar rules converge.

On to the fun.

J.P. Hayes Is One Honest Dude

I’m two weeks late with this commentary, but better late than never. Former PGA Tour winner J.P. Hayes accidentally played with an unsanctioned ball during one hole of Q School’s second stage.

Originally, Hayes received a two shot penalty for violating the Tour’s one-ball rule. In other words, if he started play with a Titleist ProV1x, then that’s what he had to play throughout the round.

But when Hayes completed his second round, he realized the second ball he had used was an unsanctioned Titleist—a prototype ball given to him by the company.

Tied for 44th, and still in position to make a move, Hayes made the tough call to a rules official, who in turn verified the Titleist ball wasn’t sanctioned, leaving Hayes no choice but to disqualify himself.

In sum, Hayes violated rule 5.1, the dreaded non-conforming ball rule, of the USGA rulebook.

Only in golf, people. Only in golf.

When was the last time you saw Kobe Bryant call traveling on himself? Or Champ Bailey say, “You know what…I think I bumped that receiver a little bit. Give me 15 yards.” Crap, in baseball, cheating is almost glorified—stealing signs, corking bats, masking drugs.

Only in golf do you see this kind of honesty. Not to say that everyone is quite like J.P. Hayes. I even have to ask myself: If I was at the second stage of Q School, would I make that call?

I’d like to think I would. Based on my faith, based on my respect for the game, but you never know until you are placed in that position.

No one would have ever known if Hayes had just hushed up and never mentioned the unsanctioned ball. But J.P. Hayes is a good man.

Abrupt break into grammar here.

Top Ten Grammar Myths

I could try and come up with my own list here, but it would pretty much be a rip-off of the Grammar Girl’s list. And since I just discussed cheating in golf, I don’t think cheating in writing grammar columns would be any more acceptable.

So instead of writing my own list, we’ll pass you along to the Grammar Girl’s site. There, you’ll find ten great rules to help clean up your writing and/or editing.

Bottom line: Many things in grammar are subjective. One style guide will tell you to do it this way, while another will say to do it that way.

Case in point: In day one of English Comp, I learned that split infinitives were absolutely, without a doubt, no point in arguing, wrong. But The Grammar Girl disagrees.

Check out the list.

Welcome to Chip Shots, eighth edition. After a week off, we’re as passionate as ever about the marriage of golf and grammar into one unified column (please note sarcasm). To check out past editions of Chips Shots, click here.

Now, on to the fun.

Anthony Kim Disqualified

Two weeks ago, Anthony Kim—one of the stars of the Ryder Cup—was disqualified for a rules violation at the HSBC Champions in China.


Image: tbd7182/Flickr

According to Kim, he tapped his driver on a sprinkler head while walking down the fairway.

“I wasn’t angry or anything, just walking down the fairway,” Kim said. “The toe hit the sprinkler, hit the top of the sprinkler, and I looked at it and it looked a little bit different. But I wasn’t sure and I put it in my bag.”

Kim proceeded to use the driver on the next hole, poking his tee shot out of bounds only 150 yards away. Kim struck a provisional shot poorly and carded a triple bogey 8 on the hole. Obviously, the altered club didn’t help much.

But here’s where the golf rules get strange. Kim was disqualified for playing with an altered club—rule 4-3b.

The rule states: If, during a stipulated round, a player’s club is damaged other than in the normal course of play rendering it non-conforming or changing its playing characteristics, the club must not subsequently be used or replaced during the round.

So if Kim would have bagged the club and stopped using it, he would have been fine. But since he used the driver on the following hole, he had to disqualify himself after discussing the situation with a rules official.

It’s too bad common sense can’t prevail. Sure, the rules are the rules. But it’s obvious this rule was created so a player wouldn’t get an advantage from altering a club. Kim was at an obvious disadvantage after tweaking his driver—how often does he make triple bogeys?

So there you have it. Next time you slam that driver against a tree or throw your putter against the cart, put that baby in the bag and leave it there. I’m sure you fellow Country Clubbers would love to DQ you from the Club Championship.

Who or That?

Last month, I discussed the ever-controversial which versus that issue. Don’t we all hate that one. Along the same lines, I present to you two more commonly misunderstood words: who and that.

Here’s a test. Fill in the blank:

Tiger Woods is a guy _______ never quits on the golf course.

Would you use who or that in the preceding sentence? If your answer is who, then you are correct, sir!

Remember, use who for a person and that for an object. One of the most common mistakes I see is when writers replace who with that. In other words, Tiger Woods is a guy that never quits on the golf course. Not right.

Rarely, if ever, will you see the reverse mistake. For example, Augusta National is a golf course who must be played in the spring. Huh? That one is a little more obvious.

But many people write that when they mean to say who. Use who when you are talking about a person and that when you are talking about an object.

Simple enough.

As always, send your hate mail to I’ll be glad to respond if your hate email is free from typos, comma splices, and run-on sentences. Until next time…

Today is Election Day.

For the last year and a half, presidential candidates have slung mud like it’s an Olympic sport. At the end of today, one party will celebrate, while another party braces for the next four years.

That’s why, in the midst of all this divisiveness, bias, and finger pointing, I find it absolutely appropriate and refreshing to champion unity and solidarity. Of course our politicians can’t create peace—they can’t even get along with each other. So we have to do it ourselves.

One way: This here Chip Shots column. You see, some say golf and grammar don’t belong together. These same people might think Ted Kennedy doesn’t belong in a church, or George W. Bush doesn’t belong in a classroom.

But I scoff at them. You may think golf and grammar have no place in the same written piece, but you don’t know Chip Shots—bringing golf and grammar together since September 16, 2008.

Let’s get started.

Don’t just hate it when…

…you address the golf ball and then it moves. Man, that sucks.

What if it happened when you were in the lead at the final round of a PGA Tour tournament? I bet that would suck even more, wouldn’t it? Sure would.

But Ryan Palmer doesn’t need to imagine such a scenario. Nope. Sure doesn’t. It happened to him on Sunday.

Palmer had a two shot lead in the final round of the Ginn sur Mer Classic when he reached the tenth green. After addressing his 30-foot birdie putt, Palmer backed away when he felt a strong wind gust.

From what I’ve read, Palmer was the only one that noticed when the wind caused the ball to turn half a revolution. But apparently he’s an honest guy. So, in the spirit of golf’s code of honor, Palmer called a rules official.

Since he had already addressed the ball before it moved, he had to take a one shot penalty. Rule 18-2 says, “if a player’s ball in play moves after he has addressed it (other than as a result of a stroke), the player is deemed to have moved the ball and incurs a penalty of one stroke.”

Had Palmer been able to back away and mark the ball before it moved, then he would have been in good shape. But the ball moved after he addressed it, so he got drilled by the golfing gods. He took the one shot penalty and made a bogey on 10 and a double bogey on 11.

The good news is that Palmer birdied 18 and ended up winning the tournament. So unlike Joe Daley, an example I discussed back in Chip Shots, Fourth Edition, the unfortunate break didn’t end up biting him in the booty.

Speaking of getting bit in the booty, this next little grammar tip will keep you from making a dreadful mistake.

The Dreaded i.e. Versus e.g. Dilemma

I’ll be honest. I just learned this week’s topic a couple of months ago. And, really, it’s not a grammar issue, just more of a common misunderstanding. So I jest when I say this is a “dreaded dilemma.” It’s really a small issue, but you should still know how to distinguish these two.

The deal is this: i.e. means “that is” or “in other words” and e.g. means “for example.”

Most people write out i.e. when they are trying to say “for example.” A correct example would be: Justin Leonard loves to play links style courses (e.g., St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Turnberry).

The three courses listed are examples of links style courses. There are potentially thousands of links style courses, but these are just three examples. Follow?

Here’s an appropriate usage of i.e.: Tiger Woods always seems to perform better in the biggest tournaments (i.e., the four majors). As I mentioned, i.e. means “in other words” or “that is.” So you would use it when you have to be more specific or make your statement more clear.

Another way of saying the biggest tournaments is “the four majors”. No need to list examples, or use e.g., there.

I feel like I did a crap job of explaining this one. It’s late, and I’m much more tired and grumpy than I was when I started writing this week’s column. So feel free to send hate mail to Or just check out the Grammar Girl’s discussion of this subject.

That should do it.

Hope your candidate gets elected. Or not.

Welcome to the sixth edition of Chip Shots–a column which attempts to bring together the once separate worlds of golf and grammar. Changing the world one column at a time.

Marking Your Ball

This is another basic rule, but it’s worth covering. We’ll cover the more complicated stuff once we get through all the basics.

This week’s rule: When you mark your ball, place a coin or ball marker behind the ball–not in front, and not to the side. Behind the ball.

If you’re playing with your buddies in a weekend game, feel free to fudge on this…as long as they don’t care, of course. But if you’re in a tournament or any type of money game then make sure you place that ball exactly where you picked it up. Exactly.

And one important note: If you have to move the marker because it is in the line of a competitor’s putt, be sure to move it a clubhead–not a clublength–and pick out a spot to line the clubhead up with–something like a distant tree or the corner of a bunker.

Don’t just arbitrarily throw the coin down without lining the putter head up with something. You could end up moving yourself closer to the hole when you replace the ball. That’s a two shot penalty. And if you forget to replace the ball after moving it a clubhead length, that’s a two shot penalty, too.

How ’bout that? Exciting stuff, huh? Absolutely.  But I’ll bet you think coordinating conjunctions are even more exciting. As Will Ferrell would say, this will blow your mind.

Starting a Sentence with a Coordinating Conjunction

I’m not sure if sixth grade grammar teachers still teach this rule today. But back when I was a kid, my teacher drilled this rule into us like it was as certain as the alphabet. Not true.

You can start a sentence with a coordinating conjunction. Go ahead and do it. Coordinating conjunctions are those short little transitional words: but, so, and, yet, etc. They join independent clauses, and commas usually precede them.

For instance: I hit my drive down the left side of the fairway, but a gust of wind blew the ball into the trees.

The independent clauses are the two phrases on both sides of the but. They are independent because they could stand alone as sentences.

Now another, perfectly normal, way to phrase the above sentence would be: I hit my drive down the left side of the fairway. But a gust of wind blew the ball into the trees.

This isn’t something you want to get carried away with. And it’s not necessarily something you want incorporate into formal writing, or business writing, such as a cover letter. But there’s nothing wrong with starting a sentence with but. I just did.

Go pick up any book at Barnes and Noble…any book, both fiction and non-fiction. You’ll see dozens of sentences that start with but or and.

I’m not really sure why this ever became a rule. But that’s usually how grammar works; it’s a system of sacred cows with no meaning or purpose, yet it stays the same because of tradition.

Your sixth grade English teacher may think it’s heresy, but throw caution to the wind and do it. I even verified my facts with the Grammar Girl, and I’m absolutely right.

Now go change the world one but at a time.

For the five of you out there that regularly read my weekly Chip Shots column–sorry to disappoint, but no Chip Shots column this week.

I usually write the column on Monday evening and it goes live on Tuesday morning. But this Monday evening I am popping Mucinex D, Robitussin, and the occasional Benadryl. I’m sure the column would be entertaining, since my head is a bit loopy. But my grammar would likely be disastrous, and since Chip Shots is a column about grammar…

Join me next Tuesday for the next edition of Chip Shots. But I will update the blog later today or Wednesday.

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