Modernized rules released; implementation set for 2019

to be implemented Jan. 1, 2019. As you may recall, in March 2017,


the USGA and R&A issued a set of proposed changes to the Rules of Golf and solicited reaction from you, the golfer. They received over 30,000 comments from golfers around the world. While the majority of proposed rules remained intact in the final version, several important changes to the initial proposals were incorporated.

Here are a few of the significant changes as reported by the USGA: • Dropping procedure: When taking relief (from an abnormal course condition or penalty area, for example), golfers will now drop from knee height. This will ensure consistency and simplicity in the dropping process while also preserving the randomness of the drop. (Key change: The proposed Rules released in 2017 suggested dropping from any height).

• Measuring in taking relief: The golfer’s relief area will be measured by using the longest club in his/ her bag (other than a putter) to measure one club length or two club lengths, depending on the situation, providing a consistent process for golfers to establish his/her relief area. (Key change:

AHOOO! On March 12, the USGA and the R&A unveiled the new Rules of Golf,

The proposed Rules released in 2017 suggested a 20-inch or 80- inch standard measurement).

• Removing the penalty for a double hit: The penalty stroke for accidentally striking the ball more than once in the course of a stroke has been removed. Golfers will simply count the one stroke they made to strike the ball. (Key change: The proposed Rules released in 2017 included the existing one-stroke penalty).

• Balls Lost or Out of Bounds: Alternative to Stroke and Distance: A new Local Rule will now be available permitting committees to allow golfers the option to drop the ball in the vicinity of where the ball is lost or out of bounds (including the nearest fairway area), under a two-stroke penalty at an equidistant point to where the ball would likely come to rest or crossed out of bounds. 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 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)

By Lorraine Thies

Other major rules changes that will remain as originally proposed include: • The time for search has been reduced from five to three minutes.

• Generally, spike marks and any other damage on the putting green caused by a person or outside influence (ball marks, hole plugs, animal tracks, etc.) may be repaired.

• The flagstick may be left in the hole when making a stroke from the putting green. There is no penalty if you strike the flagstick.

• A ball that has been lifted and replaced on the putting green and subsequently moves, it must always be replaced on its original spot, no matter what caused it to move.

• “Penalty areas” will replace water hazards and will be expanded to include those areas on the course that the committee chooses to define as such, including areas of desert, lava rock fields, etc.

• Loose impediments may now be removed from penalty areas and bunkers without penalty.

REMEMBER: These represent a brief reference to the changes. For exact wording and details on these and a complete list of all changes, go to This is a major overhaul to a set of

rules that have been in existence since 1984 (when AGA executive director Ed Gowan was on the Rules of Golf Committee). It’s a lot to take in and a lot to learn. The AGA will be conducting several rules seminars beginning this fall. Get your reservation in early! If you would like to schedule a seminar for your club, please contact Mike Mason at n

SPRING-SUMMER 2018 | AZ GOLF Insider | 37

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