Hit the greens, not each other

A golf ball sits in the mud on the fourth hole during the third round of the PGA Championship golf tournament at Valhalla Golf Club on Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Golf has some bewildering rules. And some golfers and golf fans have expressed differences of opinion about Rory McIlroy being allowed to hit out of turn twice on the final hole Sunday while rallying for a dramatic one-shot PGA Championship victory.

But though Phil Mickelson, who finished second, appeared perturbed about the second-shot exception when it occurred, he was gracious in defeat moments after McIlroy sank his winning birdie putt.

Unfortunately, though, golfers of far less skill occasionally become not only perplexed about the game's occasionally complex rules but negligent in their responsibility to uphold its genteel traditions.

That was reportedly the ugly case last week. From the website of Pittsburgh's KDKA-TV: "Two golfers have been charged with assault after they came to blows while arguing about the rules at a Pennsylvania course, and one of them allegedly hit the other in the head with a 3-wood, police said."

According to the authorities, the two men, ages 63 and 42, debated the proper definition of "casual water" (puddles) and its impact on stroke count on the fifth hole at Springdale Golf Course in Uniontown. Two holes later, their dispute allegedly escalated into punches - and that misuse of a 3-wood.

Fortunately, that swing allegedly made by the elder competitor didn't produce a slice of any kind. But the old guy did reportedly suffer a swollen jaw, fat lip and scratched eye, while the younger was treated for a mild concussion and a forearm injury.

The older man was charged with aggravated assault and simple assault. The younger was charged only with simple assault.

So remember, while it's OK to argue about what is and isn't "casual water," assault - simple or otherwise and on or off the links - is definitely against the rules.