Golf chiefs unveil new rules to 'modernise' game
Golf's governing bodies have taken a major step towards modernising the game by unveiling the new Rules of Golf that will be implemented on January 1 next year.
The changes are part of a "modernisation" process designed to make the game easier to understand for players of all levels, especially newcomers, and speed up play.
Four major changes have been introduced by the R&A and USGA with players now permitted to drop (when taking relief) from knee-height or higher.
When measuring in taking relief, golfers can use the longest club in their bag (other than a putter) to measure one club length or two club lengths.
The one-stroke penalty for the double hit has also been removed while a Local Rule - not intended for professional play - will allow you to drop in the vicinity of where the ball is lost or out of bounds under a two-stroke penalty rather than having to go back to play from the original spot and take a one-stroke penalty.
Other changes include the elimination of the penalty for the ball accidentally moving on a green, as long as a player is "virtually certain" that he did not cause it to move.
There will be no penalty for repairing spike marks on the green; no penalty for moving loose impediments or touching the ground or water in a penalty area (a red or yellow hazard) excluding a bunker; and no penalty for hitting an unattended flagstick in the hole when putting.
The search time for lost balls has been reduced from five to three minutes and "ready golf" in stroke play is to be encouraged. The current edition of the Rules of Golf (2016) must be applied for the remainder of this year.