Why don't PGA Tour players learn all the rules? They trust the experts

Steve Stricker
Getty Images
Steve Stricker says, "We're playing for a lot of money," when asked why PGA Tour rely on the experts to understand and apply the rules during tournaments.
Doug Ferguson
Associated Press

Series: PGA Tour

Published: Tuesday, November 19, 2013 | 6:08 p.m.

NAPLES, Fla. – Annika Sorenstam is one of the few players who has gone through a USGA rules seminar and taken the test, and it would seem to raise a question. If golf is their livelihood, shouldn't all tour players go through the seminar to know the rules of the sport they play? 

Steve Stricker might have had the best explanation. 

"We're playing for a lot of money," he said. 

There is golf, and there is tournament golf, and while they are played the same, they're different. Even the highest-rated rules officials who have scored 100 on the test have blown calls, such as Trey Holland at the 1994 U.S. Open at Oakmont involving Ernie Els. 

There are 34 rules. There are more than 1,200 decisions. With so much at stake – either money or prestige – players would rather put a decision in the hands of the experts, whose word is final. 

"We can always call one of the officials out of the woods," Stricker said. 

"That's a week out of their life," Slugger White said when asked why more players don't go to a rules seminar. "If you went to a rules school and you're coming down the stretch in a tournament, they'd call every time. They don't want to make a mistake." 

White is the PGA Tour's vice president of rules and competition. When he played the tour, he gave himself a 4 on a scale of 1 to 10 in his rules knowledge.