The Key 2019 Rule Changes.
The dropping procedure has
long been debated during this process and a year ago they were looking at dropping from any height, as long as the ball had some time traveling in the air, which meant one inch off the ground was acceptable. There was also a change in measuring using 20 and 80 inches, but both these have been reviewed and changed to:
When taking relief (from an abnormal course condition or penalty area, for example), golfers will now drop from knee height. This will ensure consistency and simplicity in the dropping process while also preserving the randomness of the drop.
Measuring in taking relief
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. The ball must stay within the dropping area, unlike today, where it can roll outside and up to two club lengths.
The stroke and distance rule, currently 27-1, has been one of the main rules that golfers would like changed. It is not only very penal, but means a long walk back to the tee if a provisional ball has not been played. The following provides an option:
Balls Lost or Out of Bounds
Alternative to Stroke and Distance: 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 twostroke penalty. The Local Rule is not intended for higher levels of play, such as professional or elite level competitions.
Other major 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; and a player is not responsible for causing a ball to move unless it is “virtually certain” that he or she did so.
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 putt without having the flagstick attended or removed. 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”
Currently called “water hazards”. Red and yellow-marked penalty areas may cover areas of desert, jungle, lava rock, etc., in addition to areas of water; 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. A limited set of restrictions (such as not grounding the club right next to the ball) is kept to preserve the challenge of playing from the sand; however, 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.
Relying on player integrity
A player's “reasonable judgment” when estimating or measuring a spot, point, line, area or distance will be upheld, even if video evidence later shows it to be wrong; and elimination of announcement procedures when lifting a ball to identify it or to see if it is damaged.
Reduced time for searching for a lost ball (from five minutes to three); affirmative encouragement of “ready golf” in stroke play; recommending that players take no more than 40 seconds to play a stroke and other changes intended to help with pace of play.
One of my favourites and one that has not received much attention is to do with caddies and limitations on helping their player line up during their address. This is a common practice we see today, but one that will disappear.
Player taking stance and use of caddie
Once the player begins taking a stance for the stroke, and until the stroke is made, the player's caddie must not deliberately stand on or close to an extension of the line of play behind the ball for any reason.
During the months to come, we will continue to look more closely at these changes, which I believe can only help enhance our great game.
New rules indicate there will be no penalty for moving loose impediments in a bunker or for generally touching the sand with a hand or club.