Golf bod­ies sim­plify and shrink rule book

Vancouver Sun - - SPORTS - DOUG FER­GU­SON

Golf now has a mod­ern set of rules for the Royal & An­cient game, an ex­ten­sive over­haul that took six years aimed at mak­ing the rules eas­ier to un­der­stand.

The R&A and USGA an­nounced the fi­nal ver­sion of mod­ern­ized rules. They take ef­fect in 2019.

“This was out of recog­ni­tion that in try­ing to make the rules more fair, they be­came too com­pli­cated,” said Thomas Pagel, the USGA’s se­nior di­rec­tor of rules and am­a­teur sta­tus. “With 30-plus years of tin­ker­ing, they got com­pli­cated, and that wasn’t good for the game.”

Among the changes will be how to take penalty drops — from knee­high length start­ing next year, in­stead of from shoul­der height. There no longer will be penal­ties if a golf ball ac­ci­den­tally moves on the green, if a club touches the ground in a haz­ard or if the ball hits a flag­stick that is not be­ing tended on the green.

Also, cad­dies can no longer line up their play­ers while they are set­ting up over a shot.

This is the most com­pre­hen­sive change to the rules since the first set was pub­lished in 1744, only in this case, the book got smaller. There now are 24 rules in­stead of 34, and The Of­fi­cial Guide to the Rules of Golf re­places about 1,300 ex­am­ples in the De­ci­sions book.

“With re­vised rules be­ing eas­ier to un­der­stand, we think com­mit­tees will be able to reach the right con­clu­sion with­out hav­ing 1,300 fact sets,” Pagel said.

The mod­ern­iza­tion project be­gan with a meet­ing at St. An­drews in April 2012 among the R&A, USGA, PGA Tour and Euro­pean Tour. They in­tro­duced a pro­posed draft a year ago and dur­ing six months of pub­lic feed­back re­ceived some 30,000 com­ments from 102 coun­tries through sur­veys, so­cial me­dia and phone calls.

One rule is only for recre­ational golf.

Start­ing next year, a lo­cal rule will let golfers sim­ply drop a ball that goes out of bounds in the vicin­ity of where it went out with an ad­di­tional two-shot penalty.

The mod­ern rules are avail­able at or at

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