Golf’s new Rules were published on 12th September by The R&A and the USGA before coming into effect on 1 January 2019. The Official Guide to the Rules of Golf is available on websites and apps, with a printed version being released in November. Hua Hin Today will feature important changes for golfers over coming months. An important new Local Rule is considered in this edition.
Ball that is Lost or Out of Bounds Significant issues with pace of play can result from players needing to take stroke-and-distance relief for a ball that is out of bounds or cannot be found when a provisional ball has not been played. The purpose of this new Local Rule is to allow a Committee to provide an extra relief option so that a player may play on without returning to the location of the previous stroke.
The Local Rule may be adopted from 1st January 2019. This Local Rule is not intended for higher levels of play, such as professional or elite amateur level competitions. The option allows the player to drop in a large area between the point where the ball is estimated to have come to rest or gone out of bounds and the edge of the fairway that is not nearer the hole. The player gets two penalty strokes when using this relief option, so that the relief is comparable to what could have been achieved if the player had taken stroke-and-distance relief.
The recommended Local Rule would state: When a player’s ball cannot be found or is known or virtually certain to be out of bounds, the player may proceed as follows rather than proceeding under stroke and distance. For two penalty strokes, the player may take relief by dropping the original ball or a substituted ball in this relief area (see Rule 14.3):
Two Estimated Reference Points: A. Ball Reference Point: The point where the original ball (see position A in the diagram above) Is estimated to have come to rest on the course, or Last crossed the edge of the course boundary to go out of bounds. B. Fairway Reference Point: (see position B in the diagram above) The point of fairway of the hole being played that is nearest to the ball reference point, but is not nearer the hole than the ball reference point. For purposes of this Local Rule, “fairway” means any area of grass in the general area that is cut to fairway height or less.
Size of Relief Area Based on Reference Points: Anywhere between: A line from the hole through the ball reference point (or within two club-lengths to the outside of that line), and a line from the hole through the fairway reference point (or within two club-lengths to the outside of that line). But with these limits: Must be in the general area, and must not be nearer the hole than the ball reference point.
The player may not use this option when: The ball is known or virtually certain to have come to rest in a penalty area, or The player has played another ball provisionally under penalty of stroke and distance (see Rule 18.3).”
Another Relevant Rule Change Proposed change last year would have allowed a player to drop from any height but this has now been altered. Golfers will now drop from knee height when taking relief. That is knee height when in a standing position, although the player need not be standing when the ball is dropped. For more information see www.randa.org