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New Rule Changes

New Rule Changes

By now, most of you should be aware of the new rules coming into effect on January 1st, 2019. Now this is less than a year away these are becoming more of a talking point.

Originally there were 34 proposed new rules changes but that was reduced to 24. I am going to highlight a few of the rules which you may find affects you personally on a weekly basis on the golf course.

Rule 1

Elimination or reduction of “ball moved” penalties: There will be no penalty for accidentally moving a ball on the putting green or in searching for a ball; and a player is not responsible for causing a ball to move unless it is “virtually certain” that he or she did so.

This means although you are still expected to be very careful when examining if a ball may be yours on not, or if you accidentally move your ball on the putting surface you will not be penalised unless it is deemed you did so on purpose.

Rule 2

Relaxed putting green rules: There will be no penalty if a ball played from the putting green hits an unattended flag stick in the hole; players may putt without having the flag stick attended or removed. Players may repair spike marks and other damage made by shoes, animal damage and other damage on the putting green and there is no penalty for merely touching the line of putt.

This rule I am in total agreement with. I never understood how you could be penalised because someone hours or days before had walked on the line you now have to putt on which left a spike mark. The same applies to an animal scrapping or damage, in my opinion you should be allowed to repair this as well as possible.

Rule 3

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. A limited set of restrictions (such as not grounding the club right next to the ball) is kept preserving the challenge of playing from the sand; however, an extra relief option is added for an unplayable ball in a bunker, allowing the ball to be played from outside the bunker with a two-stroke penalty.

Again, I agree with this change. Until January 2019 it was up to each individual golf club’s “local rules” whether you could remove a stone if it was lying in a bunker. In my opinion that is crazy, you should always be able to move a loose impediment if it is obstructing your golf ball.

I think the extra relief option may end up being one of the most popular rule changes. If you struggle to get out of bunkers there will be an option to take an unplayable lie and drop the ball “outside” the bunker.

Rule 4

Relying on player integrity: A player’s “reasonable judgment” when estimating or measuring a spot, point, line, area or distance will be upheld, even if video evidence later shows it to be wrong; and elimination of announcement procedures when lifting a ball to identify it or to see if it is damaged.

I think this rule applies more to the Professional as not many people will be videoed when they play golf. Over the past few years there have been a few instances where members of the public have phoned in to make a complaint about how a rule has been carried out, leading to the golfer being disqualified. I think the R and A feel the rules should be dealt with at the time and it is unfair to be reassessed possibly days after the incident.

Rule 5

Pace-of-play support: Reduced time for searching for a lost 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.

Many amateur golfers wouldn’t have a clue how long they had been searching for a lost ball. If there are people playing behind they may decide to stop looking as they don’t want to hold them up any longer.

If they decide to let the group behind play through the golfer may decide to keep looking for their ball in the meantime. If the current 5 minutes had lapsed it no longer matters if they find their ball after the time frame as it is no longer in play.

The 5-minute rule isn’t monitored very closely in amateur golf. Now it is going to go down to 3 minutes if golfers are aware this is the case I think this is a significant change in how to speed up golf.

Not being allowed to take longer than 40 seconds over their shot may be a help more than a hindrance as many golfers tend to over think their golf swing while standing over the ball.

Rule 6

Simplified way of taking relief: A new procedure for taking relief by dropping a ball in and playing it from a specific relief area; relaxed procedures for dropping a ball, allowing the ball to be dropped from just above the ground or any growing thing or other object on the ground.

Once again, I agree with this rule change. I have seen many golfers make an illegal drop. This penalises the honest golfer as they may not end up with a friendly lie. I think this rule takes away the advantage of a dishonest drop as the new rule allows the ball to being dropped inches from the ground, therefore allowing the odds of a better lie to become greater.

These are only a few of the new rules. I would strongly recommend having a read over them all as well as the existing ones. If you know your rules well enough if can be a big advantage when knowing your best option to take. I think many of you will be surprised how complex some rules in golf can be, but it may also open your eyes to the options which many present themselves when in a difficult position on the golf course.

Once you have read the rules of golf you will probably realise you break many of the rules while out playing on the course. Worst case would be to put a rule book in your bag as you never know when an unexpected scenario might arise.

I once received a telephone call from golfers who were currently playing a round at Craigie Hill Golf club needing some advice of a ruling. Luckily for them they decided to phone because not one of them was anywhere near to correct outcome.

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