Monday 19 February 2018

Revealed: New rules announced to modernise the game of golf

Officials in China have closed 111 golf courses and imposed restrictions on 65 others
Officials in China have closed 111 golf courses and imposed restrictions on 65 others

Phil Casey

The R&A and United States Golf Association have announced proposals to make significant changes to the rules of golf, including eliminating numerous penalties and banning caddies from lining up players.

The number of rules has been reduced from 34 to 24 in an effort to modernise and simplify the regulations which govern the sport.

Among the revisions under consideration are reducing the search time for lost balls from five minutes to three, allowing players to repair spike marks on greens and to drop a ball from any height when taking relief, rather than shoulder-height as currently stipulated.

David Rickman, the R&A's executive director, governance, told Press Association Sport: "We are really about modernising the rules of golf and, in very simple terms, trying to make them easier to understand and apply.

"The concern was that, over time and despite our best efforts, the rules have grown in length and complexity and therefore have become confusing and intimidating."


Here is a look at some of the most interesting amendments:

There is no longer a penalty for:

  • - Accidentally moving your ball while searching for it.
  • - Accidentally moving your ball or ball-marker when it is on the green.
  • - Your ball hitting you, your equipment, your caddie, someone attending the flagstick or a removed or attended flagstick.
  • - Touching your line of putt or touching the putting green in pointing out target. The same applies to your caddie.
  • - Your caddie marking and lifting your ball on the green.
  • - Touching or moving loose impediments in a bunker.

Relaxed restrictions to apply on:

  • - Touching the sand with your hand or club when your ball is in a bunker. You are now prohibited only from touching the sand (1) with your hand or club to test the condition of the bunker or (2) with your club in the area right behind or in front of the ball, in making a practice swing or in making the back-swing for your stroke.
  • - Dropping a ball in a defined relief area. The only requirement is that you hold the ball above the ground without it touching any growing thing or other natural or artificial object. It is recommended that the ball be dropped from at least one inch above the ground.

Things you can do:

  • - Repair almost all damage (including spike marks and animal damage) on the green.
  • - Keep using any club that is damaged during the round, no matter how it happens.
  • - Use distance-measuring devices, except when prohibited by Local Rule
  • - Play out of turn in stroke play ('ready golf'). This has always been allowed without penalty and now you are affirmatively encouraged to do so in a safe and responsible way.

Things you cannot do:

  • - Your caddie is not allowed to stand on a line behind you from the time you begin taking your stance until you have made your stroke.

Press Association

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