The strangest rules in professional golf

18. June 2014 10:33 by Julie Merar in Sports   //  Tags:   //   Comments ()


The rules of professional golf may seem pretty straightforward: Hit the ball into the hole, and whomever can do it in the least strokes wins. However, as one of the oldest sports in the world - dating back to the 1400s - golf has seen a few additions to its rule book over the years that make even the most knowledgeable experts furrow their brows. Before buying your PGA championship tickets, brush up on these obscure regulations that you can use to impress your friends this year in Louisville, Kentucky.

Off with their heads
Should you suffer the misfortune of having the clubhead dislocate from the shaft during your swing, you are subject to different rules depending on where in your swing the dislocation occurred. If your clubhead happens to fall off during your backswing and you complete the swing but miss the ball (on account of, you know, there being no clubface), then the stroke is not counted. However, if the decapitation should occur during the downswing and you miss the ball, you are out of luck, the stroke counts.

Orange you glad it isn't harvest time?
If you are planning on playing a round in Florida during orange harvest season, beware. Decision 23/10 of the U.S. Golf Association's 600-plus-page Decisions on the Rules of Golf states that should your ball become lodged in an orange, you cannot take relief without incurring a penalty shot. This rule gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "orange slice."

The 19th hole
At many courses, the clubhouse is located at a safe distance from the errant balls of amateur golfers. However, this is not always the case. Should you find yourself in a situation where your wandering drive has ended up square in the middle of the clubhouse, and the area is not marked as out of bounds, you have to play it as it lies.  Fortunately, the USGA has been kind enough to provide players with Decision 24-2b/14 which allows you to open a door or window when you play your ball. That is, assuming you haven't already shattered it on the way in.

Double Jeopardy
Thanks to a strange penalty-reporting process, many players get disqualified for doing something that wasn't against the rules at the time. In professional golf, every player is required to sign their scorecard at the end of the round. If you sign an incorrect scorecard you get disqualified. However, since there are many, many rules in golf, it is often the case that an illegal action is not apparent until the next day. In these cases, a two-shot penalty is retroactively assigned and then the player gets disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard, even though it was correct when he or she signed it.

Which wood is which?
Depending on its current state of being, wood can mean many different things for a golfer. Is it a log? That's a loose impediment - you can't move it. Is it a bench? That's an obstruction - take a drop. Is it "manufactured into a charcoal briquette?" Another obstruction. Jury is still out on log-bench hybrids.

What is the most confusing golf rule you have encountered? Tell us in the comments!

Could soccer become America's favorite pastime?

12. June 2014 10:00 by Julie Merar in Sports   //  Tags:   //   Comments ()

Though it has long been considered the underdog of American sports, soccer has been steadily rising in popularity over the last few years. The "other football" is meeting the increased fan presence with an amped-up list of Major League Soccer teams. This year is seeing the addition of three new teams to the MLS lineup: New York FC, Orlando FC and a yet-to-be-named Atlanta team. These additions show an increasing demand for the sport in cities across the country.

For an insight into the growth of soccer in the United States, one need look no further than the history of soccer in Texas. Soccer fans in that state have the choice between FC Dallas and Houston Dynamo tickets on game day. It is one of the few states, along with California and New York, that has more than one professional soccer team. The presence of more than one team speaks volumes about the level of interest in soccer in that state. Especially when one considers Austin's bid to host a third professional soccer team in the state. Austin is currently the largest metropolis in the country with no professional sports team whatsoever. As such, it has made an appeal to host an MLS expansion team. If it were to be awarded a soccer team over any other professional sports team, it would be a huge step forward in the country's perception of soccer.

Top 6 World Cup Arenas

1. June 2014 12:59 by Julie Merar in Sports   //  Tags: , ,   //   Comments ()


Twelve cities across Brazil will play host to the FIFA World Cup. These cities are located everywhere from the sunny coasts to the depths of the Amazon Rainforest. As such, each arena will present its own unique set of challenges for players. Gameplay is likely to be affected not only by the heat and humidity, but also the hours of travel time in between venues. The Brazil World Cup will certainly be a test of endurance as each team fights for the glory of winning. Here are the top six arenas and the hot matchups they are hosting during the tournament.

6. Arena da Amazonia - Manaus
The city of Manaus is located right in the middle of the Amazon Rainforest, the largest and densest rainforest on Earth. The Arena da Amazonia is actually a refurbished version of the pre-existing Estadio Vivaldao. In order to make the stadium into a tournament-ready arena, the entire venue will be enclosed in a large metal structure with a shape inspired by the woven baskets that are characteristic of the city.

Matches to look out for:
The Arena da Amazonia will host four group matches. The hottest matchup to hit Manaus will likely be the USA and Portugal Group G game on June 22. The United States is in what has been called the "Group of Death" given the extremely high caliber of all the teams. This matchup will be the U.S. team's second after facing off against old rivals Ghana in Natal, and will test the players' endurance after having traveled over six hours by plane.

5. Arena da Baixada - Curitiba
Curitiba is home to one of the oldest arenas being used in the 2014 World Cup. The stadium was originally built in 1914, though it underwent extensive renovations in 1999 and 2012. The city is located in the southern part of the country, just south of the capital Sao Paulo.

Matches to look out for:
The Honduras vs. Ecuador match on June 20 will be interesting to watch as Team Ecuador plays against their old coach Luis Fernando Suarez. After leading Ecuador to a World Cup win in 2006, Suarez will now be forced to play against his old team in Curitiba.

4. Arena de Sao Paulo - Sao Paulo
The largest city in the southern hemisphere, Sao Paulo is located along Brazil's coast. The arena is completely new and will become the home of the local team, Sport Club Corinthians Paulista, after the World Cup is over.

Matches to look out for:
Arena de Sao Paulo will host the opening match on June 12. Brazil will play Croatia in what many may initially view as an easy win for the home team. However, if the Croatians manage to score early, they have a chance of silencing the local fans.

3. Arena Fonte Nova - Salvador
The original capital city of Brazil, Salvador is a port city on the country's east coast. The new World Cup stadium is being built on the site of a demolished stadium originally constructed in 1958. The new arena will include a restaurant, soccer museum and concert venue.

Matches to look out for:
The Netherlands will have a chance to redeem themselves in Salvador after losing to Spain in the finals of the 2012 World Cup. The June 13 match should be intense, as the Oranje get another chance to meet the Red Fury on the pitch.

2. Estadio Nacional de Brasilia - Brasilia
The third stadium to be built in the capital city of Brasilia, the Estadio Nacional has the second-largest capacity of any stadium in the country, capable of holding 68,009 cheering fans. The city is located pretty far inland, meaning the players won't have the luxury of cool sea breezes to fend off the heat.

Matches to look out for:
The Portugal vs. Ghana match is likely to be one of the more interesting games at this stadium. Scheduled for June 26, it will be one of the last games that each team plays during the group match round. If Ghana can hold up after their previous matches better than Portugal, they may have a shot.

1. Estadio do Maracana - Rio de Janeiro
Originally built for the 1950 World Cup, which Brazil also hosted, the Maracana is a huge arena, boasting a total capacity of 73,531. The old structure is undergoing renovations for the 2014 tournament to ensure the facility is completely modernized and able to act as an appropriate host. The facade, however, remains untouched, as it has been recognized by the National Institute of Historical and Artistic Heritage.

Matches to look out for:
The highlight of the Maracana will be the final championship match, played on July 13 in front of what is sure to be a packed house. The stadium is also set to host a quarterfinal on July 4 and a round of 16 game on June 28. While the exact teams set to play in these events are not yet known, they are sure to be exciting matchups heading into the title fight.

Which matchup are you looking forward to? Tell us on Facebook!