After an extensive review, the R&A and USGA’s Rules of Golf 2019 have been announced and will be implemented on 1 January 2019.
Back in 2012, a comprehensive review on the regulations was launched in a bid to make golf rules easier to understand and the game more accessible to beginners and newcomers.
The majority of rules remain intact, however, several important changes—and some clarifications—were incorporated.
The modernized Rules of Golf include:
- Dropping procedure. When taking relief, golfers will now drop from knee height, ensuring consistency and simplicity in the dropping process whilst also preserving the randomness of the drop. Past Rules of Golf suggested dropping from any height.
- Measuring in taking relief. A golfer’s relief area will be measured by using the longest club in the bag to measure one club-length or two club-lengths.
- Removing the penalty for a double hit. There is no longer a penalty stroke for accidentally striking the ball more than once in the course of a stroke.
- Balls lost or out of bounds: Alternative to stroke and distance. Committees will be permitted to allow golfers the option to drop the ball in the vicinity of whenre the ball is lost or out of bounds, under a two-stroke penalty.
After the extensive review process, which also included and embraced feedback from the global golf community, the following major proposals have also been incorporated into the new Rules of Golf:
- Elimination or reduction of “balls moved” penalties. There will be no penalty for accidentally moving a ball on the putting green or in searching for a ball. A player will not be 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.
- Relaxed rules for “penalty areas”. Red and yellow-marked penalty areas may cover areas of desert, jungle, lava rock etc. 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.
- Relying on player integrity. A player’s “reasonable judgement” when estimating or measuring a spot, point, line, area or distance will be upheld, even if video evidence later shows it to be wrong.
- Pace-of-play support. Reduced time for searching for a 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.
The new Rules of Golf, which have been presented in digital, text-based form, will also be translated in over 30 languages.
Golfers are reminded to refer to and use the Rules of Golf released in 2016 for the remainder of the year.
See also: Golf Hit by “Backstop” Row