17b: The Best Rule You’ve Never Heard Of

The most important rule in golf can’t be found in a rule book.

Andy Ogburn

When was the last time you got really, truly upset on the golf course? Was it last month? Last week? Last night, when your putt to break 100 lipped out on the 18th green? Did you snap your putter over your knee, or curse your ancestors?

We’ve all been there. And the truth is — we’ll all be there again. Probably sooner than we’d like. Golf is a frustrating game by design, and every shot presents you with a new challenge as you step over the ball. Plus, if the last one didn’t go your way, the next one’s usually a little more challenging than one before.

At Random Golf Club, we view that new challenge, and every impediment we face with a club in our hands, as an opportunity to establish a new mindset in golf. No matter where on Earth your ball may lie, Erik and RGC want to change how we approach — and react — to the bad shots that befall us all. Try as we might, perfection will always be unattainable. The mark of a true golfer is how they reckon with that reality.

A new rule to live by.

You may have seen the Vice x RGC golf ball that rolled out this summer. Or maybe you’ve seen the first ever club from Random Golf Club, coming out in the RGC Field Kit this Black Friday.

What do they both have in common? They both have “17B” emblazoned right on the side. No matter how long you’ve been a member of the Random Golf Club, you might still be wondering what in the world 17B means, or still curious about its elusive origins.

It all started when the idea for Random Golf Club sprouted in Erik’s mind. A much-needed reexamination of golf, RGC began with a mission to democratize the game and make it more accessible to everyone, everywhere.

Standing in between golf and “golf for all” were the stereotypes that make the sport feel unapproachable to beginners. Chief among them were golf’s strict rules. Notoriously dense, the official USGA and R&A golf rule books dissect in fine detail everything from what you should do when your ball winds up on top of an insect to whether or not the front door of the clubhouse is out of bounds. Rather than acting as a broad field guide, these rule books are viewed by golfers as holy scripture — heretics be damned.

When Erik came across Rule 17.b. (not to be confused with Rule 17.a., or Rule 17.d(2)), he was inspired to make his approach to the game a little more approachable. The official rule 17.b states:

The Player May Play The Ball as It Lies
in The Penalty Area or Take Penalty Relief

“Play the ball as it lies.” It’s not just a line from Happy Gilmore — it’s a fate every golfer runs into when their ball rolls under some branches or sits half-submerged in a creek.

“So why do we get so mad about it?” Erik thought. No matter where your ball ends up, you have to go find it and hit it again. When your tee shot duck-hooks to the left, your ball is only getting further away from you. So why waste time getting worked up over something you can no longer control? Might as well enjoy the walk.

See Also
A People’s History of The Wind Shirt

Golfers are a unique breed with weird needs, like rangefinders, putting mats, and infomercial gear. But maybe the most peculiar piece of golf gear is the wind shirt. Why, exactly, does it exist?

A new 17B was born.

The Player Must Laugh At The Bad Shots

It’s the rule you can take with you anywhere to make sure you don’t lose sight of why you’re out there to begin with. And it’s no longer limited to the confines of a golf course. 

You’re not the only one who gets to laugh at your bad shots.

The new RGC Field Kit will let golfers of all abilities create a golf course wherever they want. Needless to say, there will be some never-before-seen lies — and some laughably bad shots. But hopefully the 17B club will help you channel a new kind of attitude toward golf, no matter the other rules in your game of Field Golf.

And next time you’re in the woods, we hope you stumble upon a ball with “17B” printed on it. Whether it’s the ball you sliced off the tee two minutes ago, or a ball someone before you never found, it’ll be a prompt to line up your next shot like you’re Dustin Johnson at Augusta — and a subtle reminder of how to react if you can’t pull off the shot you had in mind.

View Comments (4)
  • If everybody realized they aren’t as good as they think are they’d have a better time and probably play better.

    My Grandma used to say “ what’s the diff” good philosophy especially on the golf course.

  • Definitely rules to live by. Just played a course yesterday and got to have some laughs with some fellow hackers at our bad shots. It was a fun day overall, laugh at the bad ones, marvel at the good ones each other hit, and keep it moving with pace of play. Nothing can beat that.

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