Essential Golf: A passion for the Game

Complete Guide to the 2019 Golf Rules Changes

A host of new rules will be adopted by golf worldwide on January 1, 2019, and we’ve rounded up everything you need to know for the new year.

The USGA and R&A, the two governing bodies of world golf, announced earlier in 2018 that the rulebook would be ripped up as they made sweeping changes to help modernise the game and help speed up the pace of play.

So what new rules, which were six years in the making, do you need to know and how do the key changes affect golfers across the globe? We’ve highlighted the most important ones below.

Searching for a Ball

When it comes to searching for a lost ball on the course, a golfer now has two minutes less to do so, with the time permitted being reduced from five minutes to three minutes. This change is key for improving the pace of play.

Dropping Procedure

The shoulder height method currently used when dropping the ball now has now dropped down to knee height. It was originally penciled in to become from two inches above the ground; however, eventually the change of rule was raised to knee height instead.

Out Of Bounds

Where a ball is deemed to be lost or out of bounds, new rules allow for golfers to drop where it was crossed over the out of bounds. A two-shot penalty would be applied rather than a shot replayed with a one-stroke penalty. A local rule needs to be applied by golf clubs, however, as this one isn’t an enforced rule change.

Taking Relief

A planned change to 20 inches or 80 inches has been abandoned, and the two-club length rule remains in place.

Embedded Ball

Relief can now be taken from anywhere on the course if a ball is embedded, or plugged, with no penalty.

Double Hit

A change to the penalty stroke currently incurred for a double hit has been made with the rule replaced by counting one shot for the original strike only and not an extra shot for the double hit.

Putting with the Flagstick In

The flagstick no longer needs to be attended and can be left in when putting without penalty, but caddie assistance on putts is no longer legal.

Accidently Moving Your Ball

The penalty for accidentally moving your ball on the putting green has been removed, and golfers are now permitted to replace the ball without penalty. The same rule also applies if you accidentally move your ball elsewhere on the course while searching for it.

Touching the Ground in Hazards

In bunkers, there will be no penalty for removing loose impediments, and golfers can also ground the club in all hazards too.

Ready Golf

A recommendation of ready golf is also being made to help speed up play, with players advised to take their shot when ready and not necessarily in honor order or distance from the flag or green. The recommended time per shot is 40 seconds.

See also: World Golf Hall of Fame Class of 2019 New Members