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By Mark Harman, USGTF National Course Director

After reading the headline, you might be asking yourself, “What does he mean, ‘Don’t play by the rules’?  Aren’t all games supposed to be played by the rules?”

My answer is…sometimes.  And that “sometimes” applies to golf, too.  As a former professional competitive player, I know that playing by the rules in competition is important, and also if you’re playing for a score.  But in the end, golf is a game, and it’s supposed to be fun.

When I take my two boys, ages 8 and 7, out to the course, I don’t make them play by the rules.  They’re not even interested in playing the entire hole.  When we reach the green, both boys put their balls on the green, ask me what the par is, and proceed to count how many putts it takes them to get the ball into the hole.  The delight on their faces when they make a “hole-in-one” is priceless.

Adults can have this same kind of fun, too.  Instead of playing from your normal tees, if you’re a man, play from the forward tees. Breaking this “rule” might give others cause to rib you, but this is a time-tested method that many competitive players utilize to see how low they can go, in order to get comfortable shooting low scores.  Another thing is to give yourself every putt inside one flagstick length; there’s no need to grind over every 5-footer.

A game you can play with your friends involves a deck of cards.  Before each shot, draw a card and hit the corresponding club.  For example, if you draw a nine of hearts, you are obligated to hit a 9-iron, even if you’re 200 yards from the green.

You can think of your own ways to “break the rules.”  The point is to make golf fun, and breaking away from a normal stroke-play routine can inject new life into your game.

This golf lesson is brought to you by:

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