The new Rules of Golf 2019 take effect on 1st January 2019. The key rule changes include:
- New Definitions
Penalty Area – an area from which relief with a 1 shot penalty is allowed (formerly ‘Water Hazard’). Still defined as either yellow or red (lateral).
General Area – anywhere on the course except Teeing areas, Penalty areas, Bunkers and Greens (formerly ‘Through the Green’)
Temporary Water – formerly ‘Casual Water’
- Elimination of “Ball Moved” penalties
There will be no penalty for accidentally moving a ball on the putting green or in searching for a ball.
- 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 repair old hole plugs (but not aeration holes), spike marks and other damage made by shoes, animals and maintenance procedures. There is no penalty for touching the line of putt. Interference by a ‘wrong green’ now includes the player’s stance.
- Relaxed rules for Penalty Areas
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 (stones, leaves, etc.) in a bunker or for generally touching the sand with a hand or club (but not directly in front of or behind the ball). An extra relief option is added for an unplayable ball, allowing the ball to be played from outside the bunker with a two-stroke penalty.
- Pace-of-play support
Reduced time for searching for a lost ball (from five minutes to three); encouragement of “ready golf” in Stroke Play. Players may also agree to play out of turn in Match Play.
- Simplified way of taking relief
A new procedure for taking relief by dropping a ball in and playing it from a specific ‘Relief Area’; relaxed procedures for dropping a ball, allowing the ball to be dropped from knee height.
- Alternative to Stroke & Distance
A new Local Rule permitting committees to allow golfers the option to drop the ball in the vicinity of where the ball is lost or out of bounds 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. This will be trialled at Mapperley during the winter before deciding whether to adopt the Local Rule permanently.
- Other changes:
- The honour on a hole is determined by the player with the lowest gross score on the previous hole.
- A player doesn’t need to announce to the other players in the group when they are lifting a ball to identify it or to determine if it is in an abnormal condition (but they must mark the ball first).
- A ball may be marked by holding a club behind or to the side of the ball.
- Natural objects may be moved to see if they are loose or unattached. If they are found to be attached they must be replaced as close as possible to their original position.
- No penalty for a multiple hit.
- No penalty if a ball in motion accidentally hits the player, another player, or their equipment or caddie.
- Relief for an embedded ball is available anywhere in the General Area.
- There is no longer “other side relief” from red penalty areas.
- A player will be allowed to keep using and/or to repair any club damaged during the round, no matter what the damage and even if the player damaged it in anger.
- A player is not be allowed to replace a damaged club, except when it is damaged during the round by an outside influence or by someone other than the player or caddie.
You can click on the photos on the right to see explanations of some of the more important changes,