The Play it Right movement started on the 23rd of May in 2014 when an unashamed cheat took the top prize in the Mayor Erap Cup at Club Intramuros. Fortunately, members of the old Pinoygolfer forum behind and in front of him in the tournament and witnessed his underhandedness.
Then on the 9th of June, a concerned group of golfers met at the Navy Golf Club in Makati to discuss the situation and determined to do something about the cheating that goes unabated in recreational golf in the country. Thus, the Play it Right movement was born.
This is the reason we did so: This is the spirit of the game.
Honesty, integrity, courtesy: three words that have come to represent the spirit in which the game of golf is played.
Part of that spirit sits beneath the term, ‘etiquette’ and part of it relates to the Rules of Golf. But the Spirit of the Game goes much deeper than just those two tangible terms.
It is something that every golfer should develop an innate sense of, something that is born of golf’s unparalleled history, and something which lifts golf, one could argue, above other sports.
Whether it’s through divot and pitch-mark repair, or simply through silence on the tee, the spirit of the game dictates that players make sure they give others on the course, often opponents, a fair chance to play the best shot they can.
For most of us, the game of golf is self-regulating. There is seldom a referee present, so we are reliant upon our own honest adherence to the Rules in order to enjoy the game. As a result, we are all occasionally forced to call a penalty on ourselves for infringements which, often, will go unnoticed by everyone else.
It is this dependency upon honesty and courtesy that has elevated ‘integrity’ to sacrosanct status. Without them, we may as well hang up our clubs.
Elaborate plans were made as to how to address the problem. Awareness was key as was a better understanding of the Rules of Golf. Some wanted to shame the cheats by posting their names on social media. A golf summit was to be held to discuss the matter and how to deal with it.
Unfortunately, the plans to address the issue were a bit too ambitious and lacked the focus (and the funding) needed and the movement lost steam. It remained on FB where the administrators of the page continue to post articles and videos on the Rules of Golf in an attempt to spread awareness and a working knowledge of the rules.
Then one of the golfers that witnessed the original incident at Intramuros was invited to join the Federalism Golf Tour. Upon surveying the list of entrants, he noticed the name of the same fellow at the center of the incident at the Erap Cup. This sparked the outrage all over again.
This time the conveners of the Play It Right movement are determined to get it right.
Megafiber’s Albert Garcia unilaterally donated twenty thousand Pesos as seed money to get the movement going. He, PGA professional Dan Sais and the author met at the Manila Southwoods Golf and Country Club to discuss how best to put the money to good use.
As before, the primary goal must be the education of our golfers. One must have an understanding of the rules and their application before he can speak with authority about them. A series of town hall meetings are in the works to educate golfers on the rules in an informal, non-threatening forum. Work is also being done on merchandise that will identify the golfers that are now proficient in the rules and to spread the word to their friends.
Learning from our previous mistakes, the plans are a bit less ambitious and more achievable. It was also agreed that we will need to raise money to keep the movement going forward. This can come in the form of donations from like-minded individuals as well as the sales of Play It Right merchandise.
Whatever form it takes, it is vital to keep Play It Right moving forward. Trust and integrity are the pillars on which the game of golf is built. Without them, there is nothing to distinguish us from the world where individualism and chaos reign.
For now, download a copy of the Rules of Golf to your phone. Read it, take it to heart and play by the rules. Play it Right.