New Zealand Golf Magazine

Change is Coming

Significan­t changes to the Rules of Golf are on the way.

- WORDS BY PETER WILLIAMS

Recently, New Zealand

Golf asked the country's players what they thought of the proposals by offering choices from “Definitely in favour” to “Definitely not in favour.” So the following are this player's thoughts on the questions NZG asked.

The ball being able to be dropped from any height.

I am definitely NOT in favour of this. “Any height” can mean a centimetre above the grass, effectivel­y making it a place. When you drop from shoulder height, you take your chances with the lie - and that should remain.

One and two club length measuremen­ts replaced by 20 inches and 80 inches.

Again, I was definitely NOT in favour of this because there could be too much guess work about what is 20 inches and what is 80 inches. When you're measuring a club length – or two, there can be no arguments about the distance available for relief. The R and A's video suggests we put markers on our clubs to indicate 20 and 40 inches. That's just stupid. Anyway, we did away with inches in 1972. The world is metric, except for the R and A and USGA!

Maximum search time being reduced from five minutes to three minutes.

This is a definitely IN favour. This will speed up play. Many ball searches are full of pretty forlorn hope anyway. This rule change will have them finish quicker.

The removal of a penalty for striking an unattended flag stick on the putting green, so you can now putt with the flag stick still in.

IN favour. This is a good idea to speed up play. I doubt many players will take advantage of it because a hole with the flag in doesn't leave a lot of room for the ball to go in! The option for having the flag attended should remain though – often the flag attendee is a good reference point for the break of a putt!

Removal of the penalty for accidental­ly moving your ball while searching for it.

This is a good idea so gets a “definitely IN favour” as long as the ball is replaced. That takes away any suspicion an “accidental­ly” moved ball might have been moved on purpose.

The additional option of taking an unplayable when your ball lies in a bunker by being able to come out of the bunker for a penalty of two shots.

Philosophi­cally, I'm opposed to this idea. When you hit into a bunker, you should have to hit out. Sometimes, you have to take an unplayable when you ball is plugged or jammed in the bunker wall. But the drop and subsequent play should always be from the hazard – that's the game. NOT in favour

The ability for club committees to be able to define jungle like areas as penalty hazards so that these areas can be treated like a water hazard.

Many clubs do this anyway. There's a lot of yellow and red staked areas around the golf courses of this country with no water in them. The move is a logical one, and will speed up play by stopping the need to go back to where the original shot was played. IN favour

Being allowed to touch and move natural objects, such as leaves and sticks, in bunkers and penalty areas (currently known as water hazards)

My thinking is that leaves and sticks should not be touched, but stones should be able to be moved. A stone in a hazard could potentiall­y be dangerous to the player in making a shot, and can most certainly damage a club. Slightly IN favour.

No penalty for the accidental movement of a ball on a putting green.

This is another logical move, as long as the ball is replaced to where it originally lay. This will speed up play, especially on windy days where players will not address a putt for fear of incurring a penalty when the ball moves in the gusts. IN favour.

Do you think the project should go one step further and remove dropping all together and replace with simply placing?

No, No, No. A thousand times NO! As Bobby Jones always said: “you play the ball as it lies”, except when you're dropping with or without penalty. Dropping from shoulder height is a fair method of ensuring your ball lies as it might have from the original shot. NOT in favour.

Grounding your club inside a water hazard.

While I personally can't see the point, it may make a shot easier and therefore speed up play. Give it a tick.

Repairing the green of any spike marks, animal damage and maintenanc­e damage will be allowed.

Frankly, it's about time this nonsense was addressed and changed. So, a big tick. You should be allowed as unimpeded a putt as possible.

Your caddie or partner will be able to touch the line of a putt with the flagstick or a putter

See above. About time this was fixed. There never was any advantage in touching the putting surface.

Do you agree that the penalty of stroke and distance should be retained in the game of golf for out of bounds and for lost balls?

I think the current rule should be retained but for the sake of speeding up play I would like a player to be given more options. If a player hits it out of bounds he should be allowed to agree with his marker or opponent where the ball went across the line, then drop in-bounds up to two club lengths from that point, and proceed for a penalty of two shots. While a lost ball can be more problemati­cal because of coming to an agreement as to where the ball might be lost, there should also be an option to drop for a 2 shot penalty. They key is that a player must have agreement from his marker or opponent as to where an appropriat­e place to drop is. The drop may be on a line between where the original shot was played and where it probably finished up. Any drop not going back the full distance should be a penalty of two strokes. The other option which should be made available for tournament directors and match committees is to mark “drop zones” on holes where it's known players may get into strife by losing a ball. This is, of course, very common in tournament play anyway on holes with large water hazards.

While those were the major questions put forward in the NZG survey, there's a few other proposals from the R& A worth commenting on.

Maximum score on a hole

Not a sound idea at all. In a stroke play or medal competitio­n, every stroke is to count. Just because a player might have a 12 on one hole interspers­ed with half a dozen birdies, should that 12 really be reduced to double par or a 10 or whatever the committee decides is the maximum score. When every shot has to count, finish every hole and count the strokes!

The R& A encourages you to try their proposals and give them feedback. Any new rules won't be in play till January 1, 2019.

 ??  ?? (T-B) J.B. Holmes takes a drop after hitting out of bounds during the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines South.
(T-B) J.B. Holmes takes a drop after hitting out of bounds during the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines South.
 ??  ?? Harrison Frazar looks for a ball lost in the rough during the Sony Open at the Waialae Country Club in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Harrison Frazar looks for a ball lost in the rough during the Sony Open at the Waialae Country Club in Honolulu, Hawaii.
 ??  ?? Loren Roberts takes an unplayable lie in a greenside bunker
Loren Roberts takes an unplayable lie in a greenside bunker
 ??  ?? (T-B) Justin Rose drops a ball after hitting into the water.
(T-B) Justin Rose drops a ball after hitting into the water.
 ??  ?? A rules officials marks the out of bounds area at the start of the 2014 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club.
A rules officials marks the out of bounds area at the start of the 2014 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club.

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