August 21, 2007

Golf Guru

Things every golfer should know

Q: Why is a ball in a divot not ground under repair? And why can't a loose impediment be removed from a bunker?

Jim Marshall / Saratoga Springs / N.Y.

A : "Rub of the green" refers to a moving ball being stopped or deflected by an outside agency, but the term is often used more generally to mean bad luck—like getting a bad lie in the fairway or in a bunker. Legislating against such things is a practical impossibility. And anyway, do you expect a perfect lie for every shot? Golf is not like that, nor should it be. It's life. Play the ball as it lies. If you don't like it, don't play. As noted golf philosopher Hamlet said, "Aye, there's the rub."

Q: When I play golf, people always get on my tail while I'm trying to hit. How do I tell them to get off my tail?

Elsie Spencer / Statesville / N.C.

A: If anyone has been getting on Elsie's tail lately, knock it off. Otherwise, The Golf Guru will have to come down there and figuratively (and perhaps literally) throw the rule book at you, because right at the front of it is a section on "consideration for other players." Elsie deserves better.

Q: On Saturday in the U.S. Open, Tiger Woods wore black pants, a black belt and white shoes. A fashion faux pas?

Mike Hudak / Paso Robles / Calif.

A: Personally, I don't love white shoes. They belong on the tennis court or in a Florida retirement home. And like white cars, after you've used them once, they start to look a bit cheap and grubby. Better to go with black, tan or black and tan (the latter is also the name of a great post-round beverage on a chilly day—not offering to buy one for The Golf Guru is an unpardonable faux pas). But each to his own. I played on the Saturday of the U.S. Open, too (not at Oakmont), and sported a green shirt with a blue T-shirt underneath, gray pants, brown belt, gray socks and brown golf shoes. Who cares? "Golf fashion"—if that's not an oxymoron—has over the years gone in so many bizarre directions, as photographs of the Golf Digest staff from the 1970s demonstrate, that the idea of a fairway-fashion faux pas scarcely exists anymore. Within the confines of normal golf dress codes, such as no jeans, construction boots or "Free Paris" T-shirts, almost anything goes, especially for Mr. Woods, who could wear a garbage bag and sandals and make it work. There are plenty of more important golfing faux pas—literally "false steps"—such as not repairing pitch marks and divots, coughing on someone's backswing, complaining about your golf. And getting on Elsie's tail.he front of it is a section on "consideration for other players." Elsie deserves better.

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