"The better you know the rules, the better you can use them to your advantage when you play." - Arnold Palmer
Golf is a sport in which rules and etiquette are woven into the tapestry of the game, but I've also felt the rules were a help, not a hindrance. As a young Junior golfer I remember Arnold Palmer once saying that rules give you freedom and the better you know them, the better you can use them to your advantage when you play.
This paid big dividends on the PGA Tour for me one year when I was playing the Butler national golf course during the Western Open in Chicago. I stood on the 18th tee, probably at the time the toughest finishing hole of all the courses we played. Rains had swollen a creek running in front of the green, which resulted in an overflow of "casual water" filling a wooded area to the right of the fairway.
I knew the rules allowed me a free drop on the edge of the fairway if I hit to the right into the overflowing water. I also knew that hitting left would send the ball into a nasty out-of-bounds area. I took out my driver and faded the ball into the casual water, while my playing partner, unaware of the casual water rule, took a mighty whack and hooked the ball left—and out of bounds. Two-shot penalty.
When we walked into the trees I found my ball and brought it out to a dry spot near the edge of the fairway with a clear shot to the green.
"Wait a minute," said my playing partner. "You can't do that."
"Yes, I can," I said. "I know the rules."
I got my par.
So know the rules they can help you and they're there so that you can enjoy the game the way it was designed to be played.