A game that is played
by the Rules of Golf.
It is the duty of every golfer to know the rules of the game. If you don't abide by the rules, you are playing another game, not golf.
Many golfers break the Rules of Golf because they have never learned them. Others ignore them because they consider certain rules to be stupid.
However, if you play in an official competition you have a duty to the field to abide by the rules and to penalise yourself for any infraction.
There are 34 Rules and a multitude of Decisions that cover every aspect of the game.
Around the Putting Green there are occasions when you could incur an unnecessary penalty for a moment of carelessness.
Rule 18-2 states that when your ball is in play, if you lift, move or touch it purposely without first marking it, you incur a penalty of one stroke.
One of the provisos of Rule 13-2 states that you must not improve or allow to be improved your line of play or a reasonable extension of that line beyond the hole.
Rule 16-1c does allow you to repair a pitch mark or old hole plug on the putting green irrespective of whether or not your ball is actually on the green.
However, on Occasion 2 above your pitch mark was not on the green. You therefore incur a penalty of two strokes for improving your line of play.
Whether you intend to break the rules or do so unknowingly does not make a difference. If you don't correct your score and you sign an incorrect scorecard the ultimate penalty is disqualification.
Many rules go unnoticed because neither the player nor the marker knows them. However, if you are a marker or a fellow competitor and see an infraction, you have an obligation to the other players in the competition to call the penalty.
In the event of a disagreement, you can refuse to sign the card as marker. It is then up to the competition committee to decide the outcome.
Penalising others for rules infractions can sometimes lead to unpleasantness. However, calling a penalty on yourself when you break a rule should be a matter of honour.
To break the Rules of Golf is understandable – it is part of the process of learning them. However, to break the same rule twice is sheer carelessness.