As I am sure most golfers are aware, the new Rules Of Golf will come into effect on January 1st 2019.

Three important publications, were distributed in September, they will help players as well as officials and provide interpretation and guidance in how the Rules are applied:

The Player’s Edition of the Rules of Golf: An abridged, user-friendly set of the Rules with shorter sentences, commonly used phrases, and diagrams. Written in the “second person,” The Player’s Edition is intended to be the primary publication for golfers.

The Rules of Golf: The full edition of the Rules will be written in the third person and include illustrations. It is intended to be a more thorough version of the revised Rules.

The Official Guide to the Rules of Golf: This “guidebook” replaces the Decisions book and will contain information to best support committees and officials. It includes interpretations on the Rules, committee procedures (available local rules and information on establishing the terms of the competition), and the Modified Rules of Golf for Players with Disabilities. It is a comprehensive resource document intended as a supplementary publication.

The transition to the new Rules Of Golf should be relatively straightforward so here is a quick look at some of them:

  • 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).Diagram14-3-ENG

 

  • 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: the proposed Rules released in 2017 suggested a 20-inch or 80-inch standard measurement). 
    WHEN RELIEF IS ALLOWED FOR ABNORMAL COURSE CONDITION
    The diagram assumes the player is right-handed. Free relief is allowed for interference by an abnormal course condition (ACC), including an immovable obstruction, when the ball touches or lies in or on the condition (B1), or the condition interferes with the area of intended stance (B2) or swing. The nearest point of complete relief for B1 is P1, and is very close to the condition. For B2, the nearest point of complete relief is P2, and is farther from the condition as the stance has to be clear of the ACC.

    Diagram16-1a-ENG

     

    FREE RELIEF FROM ABNORMAL COURSE CONDITION IN GENERAL AREA

    Free relief is allowed when the ball is in the general area and there is interference by an abnormal course condition. The nearest point of complete relief should be identified and a ball must be dropped in and come to rest in the relief area.

    Diagram16-1b-ENG

 

  • 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 in January 2019, 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. 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)

 

WHEN BALL IS OUT OF BOUNDS 

A ball is out of bounds only when all of it is outside the boundary edge of the course. The diagrams provide examples of when a ball is in bounds and out of bounds.

  • 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.Diagram15-2a-ENG

 

  • Relaxed putting green rules: There will be no penalty if a ball played from the putting green hits an unattended flagstick in the hole; players may putt without having the flagstick 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.

 

  • Relaxed rules for “penalty areas” (currently called “water hazards”): Red and yellow-marked penalty areas may cover areas of desert, jungle, lava rock, etc., in addition to areas of water; 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.

 

  • 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 to preserve 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.diagram12-1c-eng.png0.png

 

  • 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.

 

  • 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.

 

Helpful links:

For the first time ever a print and digital copy of the Player’s Edition has been introduced as a shorter, more user-friendly version of the rules and will serve as the primary publication for all golfers. Players Edition

Visual Search The purpose of this visual search is to help you the golfer, find the Rule relating to your situation within the Player’s Edition more easily. It is intended to cover the most common scenarios that you might find yourself in on the golf course and so it does not cover every eventuality. The Visual Search assumes you are playing either Individual Stroke Play or Match Play.

 

Pace Of Play

The pace of play is a topic of conversation that crops up every day of the week throughout the country and can sometimes become a major frustration. So as well as implementing the new rules we must also play “ready golf” when we can.

None of us likes to be hurried along but we all must endeavour to keep up with the group in front, so with that in mind playing “ready golf” should help us all achieve this objective. “Ready golf” is a commonly used term which indicates that players should play when they are ready to do so, rather than adhering strictly to the “farthest away from the hole plays first” stipulation in the Rules Of Golf.

There is understandably strong evidence to suggest that playing “ready golf” does improve the pace of play.

When “ready golf” is being encouraged, players have to act sensibly to ensure that playing out of turn does not endanger other players.

Examples of “ready golf” in action are:

  • Hitting a shot when safe to do so if a player farther away faces a challenging shot and is taking time to assess their options.
  • Shorter hitters playing first from the tee or fairway if longer hitters have to wait.
  • Hitting a tee shot if the person with the honour is delayed in being ready to play.
  • Hitting a shot before helping someone to look for a lost ball.
  • Putting out even if it means standing close to someone else’s line.
  • Hitting a shot if a person who has just played from a green-side bunker is still farthest from the hole but is delayed due to raking the bunker.
  • When a player’s ball has gone over the back of the green, any player closer to the hole but chipping from the front of the green should play while the other player is having to walk to their ball and assess their shot.
  • Marking scores upon immediate arrival at the next tee, except that the first player to tee off marks their card immediately after teeing off.

If you are ready to play and it’s safe, then play.

When not playing your shot, you should be preparing to play your shot.

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