The new rules ex­plained

Your guide to the big­gest Rules of Golf re­view since 1984...

Today's Golfer (UK) - - Contents -

How the mas­sive rules re­vamp will af­fect your game from 2019.

t’s the bane of every club golfer,

Iwatch­ing your play­ing part­ner take a ques­tion­able drop or search end­lessly for a ball in a bush. But come 2019, the new Rules of Golf could per­mit drops from one inch above the ground, and cut the search time for a lost ball from five min­utes to three. The R&A and USGA have drafted more than 100 changes in to­tal, in­clud­ing re­duc­ing or re­mov­ing dozens of penal­ties and cut­ting the num­ber of rules from 34 to 24. The idea is to mod­ernise and sim­plify the game so you won’t need the equiv­a­lent of a golf­ing lawyer to make sense of ev­ery­thing. Here are the key points you need to know… ON THE PUT­TING GREEN ● You may putt with the flag­stick still in the hole. ● Spike marks and an­i­mal dam­age may be re­paired with­out penalty. ● You may touch the line of putt with­out penalty. ● A cad­die is no longer al­lowed to stand on a line be­hind you once you be­gin to take your stance. ● No penalty is in­curred if you ac­ci­den­tally move your ball or ball marker. ● If your ball moves af­ter mark­ing, lift­ing and re­plac­ing it, it must be re­placed with­out penalty.

What you can do…

● Use any dam­aged club dur­ing the round. ● Use dis­tance-mea­sur­ing de­vices (ex­cept when pro­hib­ited by Lo­cal Rule). IN THE BUNKER ● Touch­ing and mov­ing loose im­ped­i­ments is per­mit­ted. ● Touch­ing the sand with your hand or club is al­lowed, as long as you’re not ‘test­ing’ the con­di­tion at ad­dress or mak­ing a prac­tice swing. ● No penalty is in­curred if the ball bounces off the lip and hits you. The same rule ap­plies when­ever a ball un­in­ten­tion­ally de­flects off a player, cad­die or equip­ment. ● If the ball is un­playable, it may be dropped out­side the bunker un­der the penalty of two strokes.

What you can’t do...

● Sub­sti­tute a ball solely be­cause it has be­come ‘out of shape’ (scuffed or scraped on the sur­face). ● Re­place a dam­aged club, un­less some­one un­con­nected to you caused the dam­age! TAK­ING RE­LIEF ● A ball must be dropped at least one inch above the ground, with­out it touch­ing any grow­ing thing or other nat­u­ral or ar­ti­fi­cial ob­ject. ● A drop must be taken in a spe­cific area. This is de­fined by a fixed dis­tance of 20 inches or 80 inches from the ref­er­ence point or line, rather than one or two club lengths. ● Free re­lief is per­mit­ted for an em­bed­ded ball any­where through the green (ex­cept in sand). ● You may sub­sti­tute an­other ball. IN A PENALTY AREA (NEW TERM FOR WA­TER HAZ­ARD) ● Mov­ing loose im­ped­i­ments or touch­ing the ground or wa­ter is al­lowed. ● Re­lief can­not be taken from a red penalty area (cur­rently a lat­eral haz­ard) on the op­po­site side from where the ball last en­tered.


Com­mit­tees are em­pow­ered to set a max­i­mum score for a hole (such as a dou­ble par or triple bo­gey) to speed up play and elim­i­nate NRS in medals.


A ball is lost if not found within three min­utes. There’s no penalty for ac­ci­den­tally mov­ing your ball while search­ing for it.

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