Earlier this year we brought you news of the rule changes that had been proposed - after much deliberation - by the R&A and the USGA. Come 1st January 2019, these proposed changes to the rules of golf come into force so (being the helpful sorts that we are) we thought we would flag up some of the most important.
Here's a recap of ten headline golfing rule changes that you will need to know for 2019 and beyond...
(FYI, you'll find a link to the full list below)
Putt With Flagstick In
No longer will a player have to get one of their buddies to attend the flagstick when putting and the penalty for hitting an unattended flagstick has been scrapped. There will be no penalty if a ball strikes the flagstick when putting on the green.
Of course, you can still opt to have it out.
Repair Spike Marks
A golfer can now repair spike marks on the green before putting, along with almost any other damage thereby giving you one less excuse for that missed putt.
So I’ve just read we will be able to tap down spike marks next year?!— Tyrrell Hatton (@TyrrellHatton) March 12, 2018
What the hell am I meant to blame then? Got 8.5 months to think of something I guess 👀 pic.twitter.com/WCpc7mJ9hZ
Ball Drop From Knee Height
It had always been seen as a rather stuffy and archaic rule that golfers needed to drop the ball from shoulder height... now we can all drop from knee height when taking relief from a penalty area.
40 Seconds To Take A Stroke
When the powers-that-be are busy trying to increase golf's marketability, it's believed that slow play creates a barrier to this in both the amateur and the professional games.
It's now recommended that a golfer takes no longer than 40 seconds to make a stroke.
Focus On 'Ready Golf'
The first tee shot will no longer automatically lie with the player who would have historically 'had the honour', i.e. he or she who had the lowest score on the previous hole. From 2019, this privilege will be afforded to the golfer who is ready to tee-off.
Time To Find Lost Ball Reduced
Another 'pace of play' target was the amount of time allotted to a lost ball search. While previously a full five minutes, in 2019 this is reduced to only three minutes.
No Penalty For A Double Hit
As if having the accuracy and speed taken out of your shot by the dreaded double hit wasn't enough, previously golfers would have faced a stinging two-shot penalty for an accidental movement. Not any more... a double-hit will no longer hurt a player's score.
The highest-profile 'double hit' over the past few months was a certain Tiger Woods at the Hero World Challenge...
Accidental Ball Movement On Green
Think Dustin Johnson at the 2016 U.S. Open and you'll quickly appreciate why the R&A and (particularly) the USGA were keen to deal with this issue.
Any accidental movement of the ball while getting ready to take a stroke will result in no penalty and the ball is simply replaced.
Bunker Rules Relaxed
Rolling a few into one here, a player will not be penalised for contacting the sand when away from the ball.
A player can remove loose impediments in a bunker and will be generally allowed to touch the sand with a hand or club. You still can’t intentionally touch the sand to “test” it.
Also, if they so wish, when faced with an unplayable ball, a player can drop outside the bunker for a 2 shot penalty.
Distance Measuring Devices Now Permissible
Unless there's a local rule to the contrary, the 2019 changes now allow for the use of distance measuring devices.
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If you want to have a more in-depth look at the rule changes you can do just that right here.
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