The R&A and the USGA have unveiled the new Rules of Golf which will take effect on 1 January 2019.
Highlights of the Rule changes include:
- Elimination or reduction of “ball moved” penalties
There will be no penalty for accidentally moving a ball on the putting green or in searching for a ball.
- Relaxed putting green rules
There will be no penalty if a ball played from the putting green hits an unattended flagstick in the hole. Players may repair spike marks and other damage made by shoes, animal damage and other damage on the putting green and there is no penalty for merely touching the line of putt.
- Relaxed rules for “penalty areas” (formerly water hazards)
Expanded use of red penalty areas where lateral relief is allowed; and there will be no penalty for moving loose impediments or touching the ground or water in a penalty area.
- Relaxed bunker rules
There will be no penalty for moving loose impediments in a bunker or for generally touching the sand with a hand or club. An extra relief option is added for an unplayable ball in a bunker, allowing the ball to be played from outside the bunker with a two-stroke penalty.
- Pace-of-play support
Reduced time for searching for a lost ball (from five minutes to three); affirmative encouragement of “ready golf” in stroke play and other changes intended to help with pace of play.
- Simplified way of taking relief
A new procedure for taking relief by dropping a ball in and playing it from a specific relief area; relaxed procedures for dropping a ball, allowing the ball to be dropped from knee height.
- Alternative to Stroke & Distance
A new Local Rule permitting committees to allow golfers the option to drop the ball in the vicinity of where the ball is lost or out of bounds under a two-stroke penalty. 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, such as professional or elite level competitions.
R&A RULES MODERNISATION WEBSITE
The R&A has created a dedicated Rules of Golf Modernisation website that contains detailed descriptions, documents and videos about the proposed changes.
Click on the links below to see some of the documents available on the website:
Sample Rule 16 which shows the layout and formatting of the new Rules of Golf document which will be available in September 2018 along with:
- The Player’s Edition of the Rules of Golf: An abridged, user-friendly set of the Rules with shorter sentences, commonly used phrases, and diagrams. Written in the “second person,” The Player’s Edition is intended to be the primary publication for golfers.
- The Official Guide to the Rules of Golf: This “guidebook” replaces the Decisions book and will contain information to best support committees and officials. It includes interpretations on the Rules, committee procedures (available local rules and information on establishing the terms of the competition), and the Modified Rules of Golf for Players with Disabilities. It is a comprehensive resource document intended as a supplementary publication.
Click here to go to a page where the full text (without pictures) of the new Rules of Golf can be viewed and downloaded.
You can also click on the photos on the right to see explanations of some of the more important changes.