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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, June 1, 2006

You won’t find all golf terms defined in ‘Rules’

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Advertiser Staff

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The Advertiser, with help from Ko Olina director of golf Greg Nichols, is offering this question-and-answer feature on the rules of golf. If you have a question regarding the rules of golf, e-mail cmurayama@honoluluadvertiser.com. Nichols recommends readers go to Play GolfAmerica.com for information on golf programs in their area. For additional rules information, ask your local Aloha Section PGA professional or go online to www.USGA.org.

Golf lingo is certainly one of the fun things about the game — descriptive words such as whiff, duffer, mulligan, hacker, sandbagger are all part of the everyday jargon of the sport.

For beginners, it especially can be intimidating since there are so many new terms to learn. Words such as grip, plane and address actually have different meanings in everyday life and can be confusing.

Anyone interested in learning more about the "Rules of Golf" needs to first study the definitions in the first part of the book. Two definitions that you will not find are for the terms "fairway" and "rough." This is interesting, given the fact that when we play the game we are always trying to "find the fairway" and, unfortunately, are all too familiar with the rough.

The fairway, of course, is the closely mowed area between the tee and the green. The origin of the word came from the nautical term for entering and exiting harbors via the "fair way" or the safest route. Rough is the taller grass usually bordering the fairway and can vary in height from an inch to more than four inches for major championships such as the U.S. Open or Hawai'i's Mid-Pacific Open.

It's obvious where the rough got its name — it's supposed to be rough to play from. As Hubert Green, two-time Hawaiian Open winner and current Champions Tour player once observed, "That's why they call it 'rough'. If it were easy, they would call it 'easy.' "

What the "Rules of Golf" does define, however, is "through the green." This is defined as "the whole area of the course, except the tee and the putting green of the hole being played and all hazards on the course."

This definition is very important in being able to apply the "Rules of Golf" in the playing of the game. For instance, situations often arise when a player needs to take relief from a sprinkler head or other man-made object that may be interfering with the player's stance or swing. Imagine if the player's ball that was being interfered with was in deep rough but only a few feet from the fairway. The player is then entitled to drop his ball within one club-length from the nearest point of relief — this may in some situations allow the player to drop his ball onto the "fairway." This actual situation is addressed in the "Decisions of Golf," 24-2b/8.

I certainly hope that you find the fairway and avoid the rough whenever you are playing your ball through the green!