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Sailing versus golf

Published on March 10th, 2013

From Craig Fletcher:
I both golf and sailing, and recently got to thinking about the culture of sailing vs. golf in respect to the use of the rules.

In sailing we are taught from a young age to use the rules to obtain an advantage over our competition. Golf is just the opposite. One does not look to apply a rule on a competitor for gain; he or she simply follows the rules out of respect for the game. Sailing promotes yelling at the competition, protest and flying a red flag. In golf if you think you have broken a rule you call a penalty on yourself, ask your fellow golfers for a ruling, accept their call, take your penalty and move on.

Today’s sailing culture rewards breaking of the rules. Seldom are penalties taken and even fewer protests filed. In the pro sailing ranks there is an unwritten rule, never protest, the job you jeopardize might be your own someday. Golf, once again is just the opposite. The pros go out of their way to call penalties on themselves, knowing the integrity of the game is bigger than themselves.

Imagine riding in a golf cart with a person who applies the sailing culture to the rules of golf – yelling protest, never taking a penalty and always assuming they are right. Not much fun! You probably will never put yourself in that position again. No wonder sailing is losing participation. How can we change the culture of sailing to match golf? How can we put integrity back into the sailing culture?

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