This pet peeve is about me.

I’ll admit it. I’m an overzealous rules enforcer. Heck, I even wrote a reoccurring column about golf rules on this blog a couple of years ago.

If you carry one of these in your bag, you, too, might be an overzealous rules enforcer.

For whatever reason, golf is a sport where no one bothers to follow—or even understand—the rules. I’ve met people who have been playing golf for 10 years and still don’t know what a red stake signifies.

How is that possible? To me, that’s like saying, “What is that mound of dirt in the middle of a baseball field?” How can you not know that?

Granted, there are a ton of rules in golf—a lot of them are very specific and detailed. But you’ve got to know the basics.

I’m all about fairness, you see. If we’re playing in a game or a tournament and I’m re-teeing after hitting a ball out of bounds, you better know I’m going to make sure you re-tee as well. Don’t try and drop a ball outside the white stakes. That’s not a hazard.

If I’m spotting you 5 shots (or vice versa), you can bet I will make sure you aren’t using your hand wedge in the fairway.

If you’re talking smack about beating me by a shot but dropped your ball 50 yards ahead of where it went into a water hazard, well…I’m going to call you out on that too.

I’ve been called a rules nazi, but I believe there’s a place for it.

Look, if you’re just out having a good time with some friends or family, there’s no money on the line, nothing at stake, not even bragging rights—then I can understand bending the rules a touch.

But remember to put an asterisk by your score, because if you shot an 82 with 2 mulligans, then you really didn’t shoot an 82. Would you say you scored a touchdown if you were tackled at the 5 yard line? Just sayin’. I’ve known groups of guys who go on incredible golf trips, organize these ridiculous 3 day tournaments, and then look the other way while a bunch of goobers cheat through the whole tournament and take home a few thousand bucks. Really?

When I’m playing on a busy course, I’ll usually give my playing partners anything inside 2 feet—just to help with pace of play. I think that’s fair and reasonable. But if there’s anything on the line—including bragging rights—I might not be so giving.

It’s all about the situation. The more serious the situation gets, the more strictly I will enforce the rules.

If that makes me an overzealous rules enforcer, then guilty as charged.

I am golf pet peeve #15.

Previous Golf Pet Peeves:

#14: The Drive-By Honker

#13: The Golf Ball Finder Guy

#12: The Wannabe Golf Instructor

#11: Golf Simulators

#10: Pre-Shot Routine Guy

#9: Cell Phone Guy

#8: The Intrusive Golf Course Maintenance Worker

#7: The Drunken Wedding Party

#6: The Distance Exaggerator

#5: The Golf Channel Guy

#4: Stewart Cink’s Green Shirt

#3: The Mulligan Golfer

#2: The Shot Jinxer

#1: The Shot-By-Shot Recap Golfer


Most of you have probably seen this by now. ETrade has a pretty funny series of commercials featuring this talking baby.

This one, in particular, makes me laugh every time I watch it. Gotta love the Taylor Made sponsor.

And, for the record, Rule 24 says you are entitled to a drop from a cart path. Good call by the kid.

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…

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.

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 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

Welcome to the Fourth Edition of Chips Shots, a weekly column in which I awkwardly attempt to blend golf and grammar into one bipartisan column. I know; it doesn’t make sense to me either. But let’s begin anyway.

When is a ball “holed?”

Please, no explicit jokes here.

The USGA should officially label this the Joe Daley rule. I’m paraphrasing, but rule 16.5 in the USGA rulebook deems that a ball is officially “holed” when it is at rest in the bottom of the cup.

So the ball needs to land in the hole and stay there. Not bounce out. Not hover halfway down. No, the ball must rest at the bottom of the cup.

Joe Daley knows about this rule well. In the final round of the 2002 Q School, Daley faced a 4-footer for double bogey on the 17th hole. At 16 under, Daley was a few shots within the eventual cut line–the glorious few who receive their Tour cards for the next year.

Daley stroked the putt firmly, and the ball disappeared into the hole. What happened next can only be described as one of the strangest incidents in golf history. The ball bounced out of the cup and landed just above the lip.

Apparently, the cup was loose and not firmly set at the bottom, but that didn’t matter. Daley tapped the next putt in for a triple bogey and ended up missing the number by one shot.

You can’t make this stuff up. At one of golf’s most pressure-packed events, after playing spectacularly for 106 of 108 holes, with his Tour Card in reach, this poor guy has a 4-foot putt roll in and bounce out of the next to last hole. Then he misses qualifying by a shot. Unbelievable.

So that’s the Joe Daley rule: the ball needs to rest at the bottom of the cup. Read John Feinstein’s fabulous book, Tales from Q School, for more detail on this strange incident.

Now, naturally, let’s talk more about apostrophes.

Apostrophe Abuse

Last week, I took a break from my riveting apostrophe discussion to briefly examine a few of the basics of semicolon usage. Don’t fall asleep quite yet. Stay with me.

Today, I was planning to write a little about the proper usage of which and that. But I stumbled across this wonderful website, Apostrophe Abuse, and I became completely distracted.

Much like The Blog of Unnecessary Quotations—one of my recommended links—the Apostrophe Abuse blog teaches us by illustrating how NOT to use some of our favorite punctuation marks.

If failure is the greatest teacher, then why not learn about apostrophes by seeing some of the wretched signs, billboards, t-shirts, and ad copy created by people just like you and me? Well, kind of like you and me.

So, if you’re bored or need a quick laugh, head over to Apostrophe Abuse.

But if you can’t seem to quell your primordial desire to understand the differences between which and that, well I have good news—that’s next week’s topic. Don’t get too excited.