2019 CHANGES TO THE RULES OF GOLF
In August of 2018 the R & A and USGA published the final positions on the changes to the Rules of Golf that are to be effective from 1st January 2019.
To download a full pdf copy of the revised Rules of Golf please go to www.rules.golf but in summary the changes are as follows (in no particular order)
1) Dropping Procedure
When taking relief (from an abnormal course condition or penalty area, for example), golfers will now drop from knee height
2) 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,
3) 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
4) Balls Lost or Out of Bounds (Not intended for Professionals)
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
5) 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
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.
7) Repairing Putting Green and Line of Putt
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
8) Hazard Areas
There will be no penalty for moving loose impediments or touching the ground or water in a penalty area (Red and/or Yellow areas)
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.
10) Player’s Judgment and Identification of Ball
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.
11) Pace of Play and Searching for Lost Balls
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