Rules of Golf finalized, with four new tweaks

Paola Ditto
Marzo 14, 2018

The Local Rule is not intended for higher levels of play, such as professional or elite level competitions (Key change: this is a new addition to support pace of play).

There is a new "Official Guide to the Rules of Golf" book that replaces 1,300 examples in the current decisions book.

"Our previous proposal had a number of difficulties with it, particularly around how close certain players would get to the ground in certain circumstances", David Rickman, the R&A's executive director of governance, told BBC Sport.

The governing bodies wanted feedback to the proposed changes to the Rules of Golf they rolled out last February - and feedback is what they got.

Among the changes will be how to take penalty drops - from knee-high length starting next year, instead of from shoulder height.

Using the longest club in the bag (other than a putter) when taking relief will continue after respondents rejected suggestions of a new 20-inch or 80-inch standard, while accidentally hitting the ball twice will no longer incur a one-stroke penalty.

- Eliminating penalties for accidentally moving a ball in the green or while searching for a lost ball.

USGA senior director of Rules & amateur status, Thomas Pagel, added: "We're thankful for the golfers, administrators and everyone in the game who took the time to provide us with great insight and thoughtful feedback".

Now golfers are obliged to return to the spot where they played the original shot and have another go having also incurred a one-shot penalty. It addresses concerns raised at the club level about the negative impact on pace of play when a player is required to go back under stroke and distance.

The flagstick no longer has to be attended or removed when putting and there will be no penalty if a golfer hits an unattended flagstick in the hole.

The USGA and Royal & Ancient game took to doing a massive overhaul to the golf rulebook in order to make some rules simpler and easier to understand. One of them involves allowing golfers to fix spike marks in their putting line.

For more information on the new rules, visit the USGA website and R&A wesbite. Expanded use of red penalty areas where lateral relief is allowed, and there will be no penalty for moving loose impediments or touching the ground or water in a penalty area. Golf now has a modern set of rules for the Royal & Ancient game. A limited set of restrictions (such as not grounding the club right next to the ball) is kept to preserve the challenge of playing from the sand.

There will also be no penalty for removing loose impediments from bunkers and the time allowed for searching for lost balls will be reduced from five minutes to three. Also, players can declare a ball to be unplayable in a bunker, take a two-shot penalty and play from outside the bunker.

Player integrity will be relied on to the point where a player's "reasonable judgement" will be trusted on things like estimating/measuring a spot, point, line, area or distance.

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