Golf’s new Rules were published on 12th September 2018 by The R&A and the USGA and came into effect from the first of this month. The Players Edition of the new Rules many be seen at www.randa.org/en/rog/2019/pages/players-edition.
This is the biggest overhaul in many a decade with the number of rules shrinking from 34 to 24. The changes to the rules of golf are designed to make them easier to understand with an emphasis on speeding up the pace of play. Some of the new rules are more subtle than others with a few you’ll no doubt encounter in your very first round of 2019. The R&A and USGA have come up with a fabulous Rules of Golf 2019 app available for both Android and Apple iOS devices which includes simple explanations, diagrams and quizzes. We would suggest getting your head around these changes before your first 2019 round; that’s probably the worst time to be learning. Without overloading you too much, here are our picks of the most important changes.
1. Drop the ball from knee height From now on, you’ll be required to drop the golf ball from knee height when standing.
2. Reduced search time The time you are allowed to search for a ball has been reduced from 5 minutes to 3 minutes.
3. Putting with the flagstick in You can putt with the flagstick in safe in the knowledge that there will be no penalty if your ball hits it.
4. No penalty for ball moving on putting green There will no longer be any penalty applied if your golf ball accidentally moves on the putting green.
5. Stroke and distance local rule We must stress that this is a local rule so check with the club before your round to see if this is in place. If so, you may take a two-stroke penalty drop in the vicinity of where you ball was lost or went out-of-bounds instead of going back to the tee to re-hit.
6. No penalty for a double-hit If you accidentally double, or triple hit the golf ball during your swing there will no longer be any penalty; just keep on playing as if it never happened.
7. You can now ground your club in a penalty area You can proceed just as if your golf ball is on the fairway. You can remove loose impediments and even ground your club while making a practice swing.
8. Unplayable ball in bunker If your ball in the bunker is unplayable you can now drop outside the bunker under the penalty of two-strokes.
9. Relaxed bunker rules You can now touch the sand with your hand or club in a bunker, and even move loose impediments. You still cannot touch the ground directly in front or behind your golf ball, with a practice swing or on your back-swing.
10. No penalty if ball hits your bag There is no longer a penalty if your golf ball hits your own golf bag.
11. Fixed distance used for measuring To mark out your drop zone this is defined as “the length of the longest club in the player’s bag, except that this cannot be his or her putter.” 12. Measuring, dropping and playing from relief area If a dropped ball does not stay within the relief area, re-drop. If it still does not stay in the relief area, place it as close as possible to where your second drop hit the ground.
13. Green repair Scuff marks, spike marks or any unnatural damage to the green is now be allowed to be fixed and repaired; not just plug-marks.
14. Embedded golf ball You get a free-drop if your ball is embedded in its own plug-mark anywhere on the golf course except bunkers.
15. Ball moved during search There is no penalty for accidentally moving your golf ball while searching. Replace it, hit it and move along.
From Stacey Walton; Banyan Golf Club’s General Manager & Director: “We feel that modernising the game is a great way forward by making the Rules of Golf easier to apply and we will experience more quick and new entertaining formats of golf at both professional and amateur level in the future to further grow the game.”