Current Rule: The Rules address player conduct in only a limited and muted way:
Ø They set out no standards of conduct, except indirectly when giving the Committee discretion to disqualify players for a “serious breach of etiquette” (Rule 33-7).
Ø The Rules do not explain what “breach of etiquette” means, leaving that to Decision 337/8 and a few other Decisions.
Ø Although a separate Etiquette Section is published in the same book along with the Rules, it is not made part of the Rules (other than through a few Decisions).
Proposed Rule: New Rule 1.2a would consolidate the expected standards of player conduct:
Ø It would declare that players are expected to play in the spirit of the game by acting with integrity, showing consideration to others and taking good care of the course.
Ø It would unequivocally state the Committee’s authority to disqualify a player for any serious misconduct that is contrary to the spirit of the game.
Ø In place of the unclear concept of “breach of etiquette“, it would use the more direct and stronger phrases “misconduct” and “serious misconduct”.
Rule 1.2b would also give the Committee authority to adopt its own Code of Conduct and to set penalties for its breach (see Explanation for Proposed Rule Change– Code of Player Conduct).
Reasons for Change:
Ø Golf is a sport in which high standards of conduct are expected from players, and the Rules should declare this in a clear and direct way.
Ø Although the current Rule book has a separate Etiquette Section that covers the most important aspects of the spirit of the game:
o The priorities and emphasis of the section are unclear, as it also includes more general recommendations on a variety of topics, and
o The section does not have the force of Rules or naturally form part of a Committee’s powers.
Ø Using Rule 1.2a to explain playing in the spirit of the game would help in:
o Giving more prominence to the expectation that all players will act with integrity, show consideration to others and take good care of the course, and
o Setting expectations so that players are on notice that serious misconduct in failing to meet those expectations could lead to disqualification.
Ø Changing the term from “serious breach of etiquette” to “serious misconduct” would help to distinguish this concept from the term “serious breach” which would continue to be used in the new Rules for an entirely different purpose.