Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

Golf is struggling.

Apparently, millennials prefer to go cycling.

It's cheaper and you can wear even more ridiculous clothing than for golf.

Many people do still drift to the golf course in order to cement business relationships or discuss deals in fresh air and privacy.

And to show off their skills in the hope of gaining wistful admiration, of course.

January 1, though, will see the most radical changes in the Rules of Golf for 60 years.

For the people who run golf to make any changes, it's startling, but that's what pressure can do to you.

Of course, some of these new rule changes are merely attempts to rectify the utter stupidity that has enveloped golf's rulemakers for centuries.

Sample: It used to be legal to repair a ball mark on the green, but not a spike mark.

It also used to illegal to hit the ball twice. But who does that deliberately? So now, if you hit the ball twice, c'est la vie. No penalty.

However, you'll need to know about three changes that could really lead to a fallout in your business relationships if you're not careful.

Here's the first: You can now putt the ball with the flag still in the hole.

It used to be there'd be a two-shot penalty for such a transgression. I've personally seen it being enforced at a company golf day. Oh, the ruddy faces after that one.

And the second: You know how when you've hit the ball into the water, you're supposed to drop it from shoulder-height in a spectacle of supposed fairness?

Well, now you can drop if from knee-level. Yes, you've a much better chance of giving yourself a better lie and not having to cheat when your playing partners aren't looking,

I once witnessed a terrible altercation at another corporate golf day when someone dropped their ball from shoulder-height, didn't like the lie and then, when he thought no one was looking, nudged the ball to a better place with his foot.

He was spotted. The argument was fearsome. I fear a contract was lost in the process. And, for all know, a contract was put out on the miscreant too.

Now, it's far easier to drop the ball in a slightly better place.

Finally, the third important rule change.

You really discover a lot about your business connections on the golf course. Once, I played with the CEO and CFO of a famous company. 

The CEO was a delight. The CFO, on the other hand, was the type who raged at every bad shot, emitted the most unpleasant curses, threw his clubs and even broke one across his knee. 

"He's different at the office," the CEO whispered to me.

It used to be that, if your club was damaged in some way, it was illegal to play with it. Yes, even if you didn't realize the shaft was now at 160-degrees to the club face because you'd smashed it against a tree in anger.

Now, you can play with any sort of damaged club. If you can, that is. 

So, as you contemplate your next business golf outing, please familiarize yourself with all the new nuances.

You don't want some officious type accusing you of breaking the rules.

After all, you want to win, don't you?

Published on: Dec 9, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.