THE NEW, modernized Rules of Golf have been finalised and released by the R&A and the USGA, and will come into effect at the beginning of 2019.
Though the general foundation for this update was to
clarify the sport’s notorious ambiguity around its guidelines, rules language can still be hard to process. So, here’s what you need to know about the new Rules of Golf.
The number of rules has shrunk considerably
In order to streamline and simplify the sport’s regulations, there are now 24 rules, down from 34. There were tweaks from the initial modernised proposal that was released in 2017. Four, to be exact.
After the first draft was submitted to the public, the governing bodies took feedback from the golf community. The alterations are a response to what they heard.
One change is designed specifically for the
Regarding out of bounds or a lost ball, a new Local Rule will now be available in January 2019, permitting committees to allow golfers the option to drop the ball in the vicinity of where the ball is lost or out of bounds (including the nearest fairway area), under a two-stroke penalty instead of taking stroke and distance.
Basically, if you smash your first drive into the woods you no longer have to hit your third from the tee. Instead, you can play your fourth from the
It addresses concerns raised at the club level about the negative impact on pace of play when a player is required to go back under stroke and distance.
The Local Rule is not intended for higher levels of play, and as such will not be in play at professional or elite level competitions.
Another tweak: The height of your drop
Although the initial proposal had a player taking a drop from any length above two inches from the ground, the new rule stipulates that the drop be taken from knee height, still a
significant change from the
current shoulder level.
There’s also no longer a penalty for a double-hit
Golfers across the globe, including TC Chen, will be smiling at this as a double hit will just count as one stroke.
Club-length, not inches, will be the measurement for relief
One of the March 2017 proposals called for either a 20-inch or 80-inch standard, but golfers responded by saying “How are we going to actually measure that?” The governing bodies agreed, going back to club lengths instead. Now the golfer’s relief area will be measured by using the longest club in his/her bag (other than a putter) to measure one club-length or two club-lengths, depending on the situation,
providing a consistent process for golfers to establish his/her relief area.
Aside from the tweaks, other proposals in the first draft from March 2017 will be
These touch on six primary areas: ball-moved penalties, relaxed putting green rules, relaxed rules for water hazards, pace of play, player integrity and rules in the bunker. The big takeaways from this are:
No longer a penalty for accidentally moving a ball on the green
You are still penalised, however, if it is “virtually certain” you caused it to move on
You can putt with the flagstick in
Not only has the penalty for putting to an unattended flag been eliminated, you need not have it removed at all.
You can repair all the spike marks your heart desires
As well as repair animal or other damage on the green.
Another penalty removed: touching the line of the putt
However, caddies are not allowed to stand behind or serve as an extension of the line. You can now move
impediments in bunkers and water hazards. There’s also no penalty for touching the ground or water in a penalty area or in the sand, but you cannot ground the club right next to the ball. However, if you’re “generally” touching the sand with the club, that’s okay.
An extra relief option has been added for an unplayable ball in a bunker
More good news for those that struggle in the sand. You can place the ball to be outside the sand with a two-stroke penalty.
The Rules also give your integrity some latitude
A player is given “reasonable judgement” when estimating or measuring a spot, point, line, area or distance. Your placement will be upheld, even if video evidence later shows it wasn’t in the exact spot.
You also are no longer required to announce when you are lifting a ball to identify or see if it’s damaged
Previously you had to advise a playing partner. Not from next year.
You’re no longer allowed five minutes to look for a lost ball
Your search party now has three minutes, which is another move designed to speed up the game.
A player can take no more than 40 seconds to play a stroke
A change made to help speed of pace of play and promote ‘ready golf, although admittedly this could be hard to enforce at the amateur ranks.
David Rickman, Executive Director – Governance at the R&A, said: “We are pleased to be introducing the new Rules of Golf after a collaborative and wide-ranging review process, which has embraced the views of golfers, rules experts and administrators worldwide. We believe that the new Rules are more in tune with what golfers would like and are easier to understand and apply for everyone who enjoys playing this great game.”