Monday, July 09, 2007

Is Golf Really Penal?

The game of golf is generally thought of as a penal one. More than penal. Cruel, even.

Then I happened to catch a few minutes of a show on The Golf Channel that recapped the 2005 Masters Tournament (won by Tiger Woods, thanks in part to the amazing chip on 16). In it, the announcers mentioned a player who'd "hit into a bush and had to take a one-stroke penalty for taking an unplayable lie." And I thought -- one stroke isn't really much of a penalty. The rules of golf could just as easily require a golfer to have to hack at a ball that is visible and within reach until it is back in a better spot. Even if you lose the ball entirely, the penalty is still just one stroke. It could penalize you ten strokes for losing a ball, not just one. So let's have no more complaining that golf is a penal game.

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