Golf’s mod­ern­ized rules are now in ef­fect

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Golf Guide - Pro­vided by: Golf Canada

The USGA and The R&A have un­veiled the new Rules of Golf, that were im­ple­mented Jan­uary 1st, 2019.

The USGA and The R&A fi­nalised golf’s new rules af­ter an ex­ten­sive re­view that included a re­quest for feed­back from the global golf com­mu­nity on the pro­posed changes. Golfers can now ac­cess the of­fi­cial 2019 Rules of Golf by vis­it­ing or

The process to mod­ern­ize the rules be­gan in 2012 and was ini­ti­ated to en­sure that the rules are eas­ier to un­der­stand and ap­ply for all golfers and to make the game more at­trac­tive and ac­ces­si­ble for new­com­ers.

As the Na­tional Sport Fed­er­a­tion and gov­ern­ing body, Golf Canada worked along­side The R&A and the USGA on the rules mod­ern­iza­tion ini­tia­tive.


• Drop­ping pro­ce­dure: 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. (Key change: the pro­posed rules re­leased in 2017 sug­gested drop­ping from any height).

• Mea­sur­ing in tak­ing re­lief: The golfer’s re­lief area will be mea­sured by us­ing the long­est club in their bag (other than a put­ter) to mea­sure one club-length or two club-lengths, de­pend­ing on the sit­u­a­tion, mak­ing for a con­sis­tent process for golfers to es­tab­lish their re­lief area. (Key change: the pro­posed rules re­leased in 2017 sug­gested a 20-inch or 80-inch stan­dard mea­sure­ment).

• Re­mov­ing the penalty for a dou­ble hit: The penalty stroke for ac­ci­den­tally strik­ing the ball more than once in the course of a stroke has been re­moved. Golfers will simply count the one stroke they made to strike the ball. (Key change: the pro­posed rules re­leased in 2017 included the ex­ist­ing one-stroke penalty).

• 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 two-stroke penalty. This lo­cal rule ad­dresses the 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.


• 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.

• 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; rec­om­mend­ing that play­ers take no more than 40 sec­onds to play a stroke and other changes in­tended to help with pace of play. Three pub­li­ca­tions are avail­able to pro­vide play­ers and of­fi­cials, guid­ance in how the Rules are ap­plied:

• 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 Rules of Golf: The full edi­tion of the rules will be writ­ten in the third per­son and will in­clude il­lus­tra­tions. The Rules of Golf is in­tended to be the pri­mary pub­li­ca­tion for of­fi­cials.

• 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 “long-form” re­source doc­u­ment in­tended as a sup­ple­men­tary pub­li­ca­tion.

For more in­for­ma­tion of the rule changes or to get ac­cess to new rule books and ed­u­ca­tional tools visit Golf Canada’s web­site: golf­

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