Relax the rules, people. You'll have more fun playing golf.
That's the message the Golf Channel has started promoting with its "Relaxed Rules" series. Tournament golf is supposed to be full of pressure and stress and challenging conditions to identify the best player.
Casual golf should be the opposite of those things.
I loved the analogy of Charlie Rymer, the co-host of "Morning Drive" who compared golf to a big house that needs "a more welcoming front porch."
"When there's nothing on the line but fun, recreational golf should be an enjoyable experience," Rymer said. "Trying to remember and decipher the official rules can get in the way of a good time."
Golf Channel has created a list of seven rules to follow to make the game simpler and more fun.
Video: Matt Ginella and Charlie Rymer reveal the Relaxed Rules of Golf
1. MAXIMUM SCORE: Golfers should pick up and quit keeping score once they reach "double par." Isn't 6 on a par 3, 8 on a par 4 and 10 on a par 5 punishment enough? Following this simple guideline will speed up the game and help keep beginners from getting too frustrated.
2. PENALTIES: All penalties should be one stroke, including out of bounds, water and lateral hazards, a lost ball and an unplayable lie. Drop a ball near where the original was lost and play on. This will also save on time and arguments over the interpretations of the golf's most complex rules.
3. SEARCH TIME: Spend two minutes looking for a lost ball and no more (not the five they do on the PGA Tour). Once it's deemed lost, drop and move on. No more nonsense of returning to the tee for a drive out of bounds.
4. UNFORTUNATE LIES: With playing partners' consent, balls may be dropped out of divots or footprints, away from tree roots and any other dangerous lies. This is the only rule that might cause some casual golfers pause. We've always been taught to play the ball as it lies. If we hit it in an unfortunate spot, then we play from that unfortunate spot and take our medicine. If the ball is in the middle of the fairway in a divot, that's a different story. Roll it over onto the grass. Someday we all hope that rule is changed to allow relief from a fairway divot.
5. CONCEDED PUTTS: Putts may be conceded with your playing partners' consent. This should be a given in every non-tournament round, even in the annual death-match with buddies. Concede more putts to keep things moving along. There's no reason to make everybody grind over 2-footers all day long.
6. EQUIPMENT: No restrictions, including number of clubs. This is probably the one rule suggestion that won't affect too many golfers. Few recreational golfers will add more clubs to their bag. We have trouble hitting the 14 in our bag. Why should we need more?
7. COMMON SENSE: When in doubt, use common sense and fairness. This is the most important offering. It's a catch-all that should keep pace of play moving forward.
Matt Ginella, another co-host of "Morning Drive," believes this is an exciting time for the game because all its problems -- slow play, cost, rules snafus, welcoming more people of all skill levels -- are being addressed for the future.
"We're not suggesting that golfers ignore the official rules. They should continue to be used for any type of competitive play," Ginella said. "But when it's a match among friends, Relaxed Rules can make the game easier, faster and more fun. These simply are common sense practices for avid amateurs, and it's how the majority of the game is being played anyway.