A Good Word Spoiled

The two governing bodies for the game of golf, the American United States Golf Association (quite prosaic in way that Trump might have named it), and the British, Royal and Ancient (quite pompous in a way that only a bunch of upper-class twits could have named it) changed some of the rules of golf as of January First, 2019.

Spectators and participants have now had a little more than three months to watch and play with the new rules and, as is the case with such things golf, some are good, some are bad and all are incomprehensible.

Included in the new rules were a few changes in the jargon. To wit:

A “hazard” is now a “penalty area.” What a shame. A hazard is so much richer. The only imagery associated with a penalty area is the place where your kids go during a timeout.

In head to head play, aka match play, the elegant and oh so British terms have been terminated for more universally understandable but boring words. “All square” is now “tied,” as is “halved.” “Dormie” may still be used, though it is unclear. Let’s hope it stays in use as its etymology is lovely. Dormie is a state near the end of the match where neither player can lose, (don’t ask.) The term is derived from the Latin and French for sleep, dormir, as in dormitory. What a comforting idea - finishing out a competitive and fun GAME where you can’t lose so you can just sleep through the remainder.

But none of these terms were really confusing; even a casual spectator could intuit their meaning. But, alas, they didn’t fix the following terms for different types of games which require one to carry My Little Pocket Golf Dictionary to suss out the differences:

Four Ball


Best Ball

Better Ball

Even if you, dear reader, care to know the differences, I get a headache just thinking about explaining them.