Why we love the new golf rules

Since 2012, USGA and R&A have been focusing on modernising the rules of golf to make it easier for all of us to understand and to make the game faster to play. They reached out to golfers from over 100 countries to get their thoughts. 30 000 responses later USGA and R&A felt they were now able to apply their own knowledge and expertise, as well as the feedback from golfers around the world to modernise the rules of golf. These new rules will be put into place as of the 1st of January 2019.

Golf is a very complex game to govern, there is also a lot of what if’s -what if something is in the way of my swing, what if my ball gets stuck etc. It is never going to be a short rule book, but these new changes are going to make it a lot shorter and easier to understand. The rulebook has gone down from 233 pages to about 150. A shorter version (players edition) has also been created to help you find and understand rules quicker while out on the green.

Though the general premise for this update was to clarify the sport’s notorious ambiguity around its guidelines, let’s be honest: the language of golf and all its rules can still be hard to process. Luckily for you, we have taken a look at the new rules and have chosen 10 we believe are most significant.

10 most significant changes

1. Search time:

Put a timer on ladies and gents, for your ball search is down to 3 minutes from the original 5 – this is going to speed up the game considerably.

2 .The ball moved during a search:

Searching for your ball in long grass can be quite tricky and usually ends up with the player accidentally standing on it or kicking it, causing it to move. This used to result in a penalty, however, not anymore – simply put the ball back to where it was.

3. Embedded ball:

If the ground is wet the ball may get stuck when it lands. You used to only get relief in closely mown areas, but now you can take a free drop from embedded balls from all general areas including in the semi-rough and rough.  

4. Club length:

Originally you could use any club. Now club length is defined as a player’s longest club – except for putter. Using the longest club for measuring will minimize the inconsistency in the size of a relief area between players (including eliminating the advantage for players who currently can use a long putter for measuring).

5. Dropping:

Dropping of the ball used to be from shoulder height. Now it has changed to dropping from knee height, which makes more sense to us as it will ensure consistency and simplicity in the dropping process. If you drop from shoulder height from habit don’t worry just pick it up and do it again from knee height with no penalty.

6. Ball hits player or equipment:

Previously If the player’s ball hit the player or their equipment there was a penalty. This all seemed a bit unfair. Wasn’t the fact the ball was still the bunker or hadn’t travelled anywhere, punishment enough? Luckily the governing bodies agreed with this one too. Now there is no penalty, but it must have happened accidentally. You are also not allowed using your foot or equipment as ball stopper.

7. Double hit counts as 1 stroke:

If the players club gets stuck when playing a shot and the ball is hit more than once you used to incur a penalty stroke, Lucky for us they have done away with the penalty and double hit counts as 1 stroke.

8. Touching sand in the bunker:

Much of this rule remains including; no testing the sand before play, the club must not be grounded behind the ball or during practice swings. The difference is that now players can smooth out marks as long as they are not in the line of play and you are also permitted to lean on a club in the sand.

9. Loose impediments:

Sticks, leaves, stones, they were all so frustrating to deal with on the course. Now, any loose impediments on the golf course can be removed from anywhere as long as the ball is not moved in the process otherwise a one penalty stroke is incurred.

10. Hitting the flagstick:

Trying to get us all off the course quicker is a key part of the new Rules. This rule does just that. If a ball played from the green hits an unattended flagstick in the hole, there’s no longer a penalty. You can also putt with the flag either attended or unattended. If the ball is partly below the lip of the hole it is classed as holed.

Many of us are quite resistant to change, but in this case, we believe these new rules are going make our beloved game much easier for beginners to understand and more enjoyable for those of us already out on Dainfern’s beautiful golf course.