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Some would say, as the very fi rst

rule in the Rules of Golf, Rule 1-1,

should be as sacred as the fi rst line of the Book of Genesis: “The Game of Golf consists of playing a ball with a club from the teeing ground into the hole...” To which I say, with

all deference to the royal and ancient gods: Come on, get real. There are rules, and

then there is real life—sort of like how there are speed limits, and then there is speed of traffi c. Or how the DMV asks you to list your weight on your driver’s license and you are free to choose the numbers. Rules. . .and real life. Today we focus on

those three words: “. . .into the hole.” And today we focus

on the concept that some- times you know, I know and everybody knows— especially the group behind you, hands on hips, ready to shout “While we’re young!” —that golfi ng your ball into the hole isn’t always the best idea of the day.

I understand that when

you stick that peg in the ground on that tee box, a magical journey awaits. Anything can happen when you play a golf hole, and the untold story of your golf hole is a boundless possibil- ity that holds its spell on our souls. And then there’s what

you’re supposed to do when your golf hole becomes a smoldering wreck, a tire fi re of heinousness. You know what to do.

You BIP is what you do. Given that the reader- ship of this magazine is generally an erudite crowd, most of you know the acronym BIP, but for those who don’t, it’s simple: Ball in Pocket.

That means picking up

your ball with your hot little hand, and placing it in your pocket before you fi nish the hole. Clear? Sometimes it happens.

Sometimes you start a par 4 with a driver off the toe

Hurrying your pace, you

slash at your ball and skull it with a 5-iron—well over the green. You lie fi ve. You thought that was

bad? Your attempt at a chip, rushed by the adrenaline of falling behind, is struck too hard, past the hole and into a greenside bunker. Lying six, and noticing in your peripheral vision that the group behind you is in the fairway, making the universal sign of golf dis- dain by leaning on their golf clubs as they wait, you of course leave your seventh in the bunker. Some basic facts

emerge: Your play- ing partners have holed out. You’ve been playing the hole for a while now. And at last check, this is not the U.S. Open. Your score, my friend, is not as important as you think. It’s time to do

the right thing. It’s time to take a stand for truth, justice and

into an adjoining fairway. Blocked by a tree, your attempt to sky a 7-iron over the treetop meets with limbs. Under the tree lying two, fl ustered, your punch cut fails when your club hits ground before ball. The ball barely moves. When you do punch out to the fairway lying four, you notice your playing partners are greenside. Your breath quickens.

A warm sensation coats your neck. It’s called embar- rassment.

against slow play. It’s time to put the ball

in your pocket. There will be no holing

out, friend. You’re taking one for the team, and for the greater good of pace of play.

By the way, this also applies to another topic: when a player in your group offers you a “gimme” to speed up play, you accept the “gimme.” This is simply good manners. To not ac- cept the “gimme” is akin to insulting the host, like

keeping your shoes on in Japan when everyone else is wearing socks. Picking up your ball, by

the way, does not make you a quitter. Rather, this makes you a hero. Golf is a game best played at a steady pace, at that perfect intersection of relaxation and advance- ment, and you have ac- knowledged the keeping of that pace with your gentle- manly surrender. Think of it as golf ’s version of holding a door open for a lady. After all, it takes a

village to make a golf course a happy place.

The USGA has ac- counted for such unfor- tunate incidents with the “Equitable Stroke Control” invention, in which a ceiling is placed on the score you report each hole, pending your handicap. Think of the ESC as the noble man’s way out. So really, nobody gets

hurt here. Your playing partners don’t have to avoid making eye contact with you while you gouge your eighth and ninth shots out of the bunker. The golf course feels the sweet fl ow of a well-paced afternoon. And you come off as the guy who isn’t “that guy.” Let’s face it, nobody wants to be “that guy.” Nobody wants to play with “that guy”—especially as “that guy” lines up a 15-footer for an 11.

Embrace your inner BIP!

Brian Murphy hosts the KNBR morning show “Murph and Mack” and was the San Francisco Chronicle’s golf writer from 2001-2004.

FALL 2011 / NCGA.ORG / 21

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