The new rules explained
Your guide to the biggest Rules of Golf review since 1984...
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.
SCORING IN STROKEPLAY
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.
IN THE TREES
A ball is lost if not found within three minutes. There’s no penalty for accidentally moving your ball while searching for it.