The hazard of playing under coronavirus rules

Ivan Morris

Image designed by Ed Moynihan

While it’s great to be out walking the fairways again, for me, the game has lost at least some of its bite and lustre under the temporary Corona Rules. I sincerely hope the current regime doesn’t carry on like this for too long. While I love trying to control the flight of my golf ball and often say that I am at my happiest on the practice ground, making up shots and watching the ball fly, it’s not really true.

After only two weeks, I am beginning to miss the competitive side of the game or, at least the prospect of it. Wasn’t it Bob Jones who said: “There is golf, tournament golf and championship golf and they are not at all the same. I suppose that is because all of them can be likened to walking a tightrope. Ordinary golfers walk the tightrope when it’s one foot off the ground. In tournament golf, the rope is raised by 30-feet, which can put nasty ideas in one’s head. Championship golf is when they take the safety net away! We all have a different swing and a different mindset when playing the last three holes in a competition when in with the chance of winning. When there isn’t something on the line that depends on the outcome the next golf shot, it doesn’t mean anything.

One of the ‘goods’ under ‘Corona Rules’ has been that bunkers have once again become proper, unpredictable hazards with random consequences of varying severities once more. The disappearance of rakes has also speeded up the game as less time is spent encircling the bunker to find a rake and less time is spent raking.


Surprisingly, bad lies are encountered no more frequently than normal. Partly, I suppose, because as many golfers do not use the rake provided properly to tidy up after themselves as should do? It seems to me that using one’s feet or clubs to smooth the mess, is every bit as effective as using a rake.

I wish the new reality of golf without rakes would be adopted across the board and into professional golf tournaments when they resume. In golf’s earliest days, bunkers were always unkempt and uncared for. Even the professional golfer class struggled. Somebody, I know not who, where or when, had the brilliant idea to provide rakes. The rake was looked upon as a legitimate golf tool as revolutionary as discovering the ‘wound-elastic’ ball or the steel shaft; a gross exaggeration but I can imagine why they would have said it if you look at photographs of the state of bunkers in the 1800s and early 1900s.

These days, we are all a little spoiled and demand that our courses be prepared to exemplary standards – including the bunkers, which were previously called hazards. On the pro tours the bunkers could hardly be seen as hazards at all – they are so perfectly prepared and tended to. Not only that but they are as good as ‘all the same’ regardless of what country or continent in which they are located. Is it any wonder pros are so good playing out of them? For amateurs, though, no two bunkers seem to be the same even when they are beside the same green on the same golf course.

If you are a touring pro, every shot from a bunker is duly followed by a raking routine that must be carried out to absolute perfection by a volunteer (usually a professional greens keeper) otherwise there will be ‘hell to pay!’ The ‘poor amateur’ isn’t so lucky!

I’ll put it to you this way: when two opponents hit their balls into the same area of rough but get different results, it is seen as ‘rub of the green’. When they both hit into the same bunker and one receives a horrible lie and the other a perfect one – there are screams of ‘blue bloody murder’. Why?


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4 responses to “The hazard of playing under coronavirus rules”

  1. Mulcahy Finbarr avatar
    Mulcahy Finbarr

    Good article but unfortunately cannot see it happening. Pro’s will moan etc . It needs a strong lobby to change things.

  2. Peter Whelan avatar
    Peter Whelan

    I agree with the author in relation to bunkers maybe not to the extent of doing away with rakes. But for club golfers even with rakes you have to play the ball as it lies. It adds to the mystery of the game. Sometimes the only satisfaction taken from a round might be the excellent shot from a crap lie.

  3. maryD avatar

    So true! I always say Pros would scream if they had to play from the regular bunkers we poor hacks play from

  4. GARY STEWART avatar

    All for it, it could lead to more accuracy especially off the tee. Any pro that moans can get a job elsewhere.

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