Golf is often called the “gentleman’s game” because it is expected that those who play maintain a high level of dignity and respect for the game and for fellow golfers. In golf, you do nothing to impede another golfer’s game. There are no blitzes or full-court presses; you don’t guard your opponent and there are no zone defenses. Even the fans are required to show respect for all players. Golf is truly a “gentleman’s game.”
It is a “gentleman’s game” with “gentleman’s rules,” rules that expect each golfer to have integrity and honesty in following them. The rule that in many ways defines the game is really quite simple. It reads as follows: The ball must be played as it lies, except as otherwise provided in the Rules. In essence, this rule states that a player must not move his/her ball in order to improve its position.
One would think that this rule provides a certain amount of fairness in the game of golf. The rule seems to ensure that good shots will always be rewarded while poor shots will always be penalized. However, those who play the game know this isn’t always the case; they know that golf is not a fair game! Sometimes a good shot lands in a difficult lie, while a poor shot lands allowing for a good second shot. Jack Nicklaus one time stated quite clearly, “Golf is never a fair game and was never meant to be.”
I guess it is true: golf often imitates life. It is an undeniable fact that in life we will invariably experience things that seem unfair. These things can come in the form of an unforeseen accident or an overt act of wrongdoing. Whatever the case, we have to play it as it lies. The prophet Habakkuk understood the unfairness of life. After confronting God, Habakkuk proclaimed that no matter how it played out he would stay faithful: I will rejoice in the Lord. I will rejoice in the God of my deliverance. The Lord God is my strength. He will set my feet like the deer. He will let me walk upon the heights. (Habakkuk 3: 18-19)