The R&A and the USGA embarked on the process to modernise the Rules in 2012, which was initiated to ensure that the Rules were easier to understand and apply for all golfers as well as making the game more attractive and accessible for newcomers.
The R&A’s Rules came into effect on January 1, 2019. We take a look at 19 of the most important changes...
1. Search time has been reduced from FIVE minutes to THREE minutes.
2. Ball accidently moved during search - replace with no penalty.
3. Embedded ball - free relief in the general area.
4. Measuring the relief area in taking a drop - Use your longest club (except the putter)
5. Take drops from knee height rather than shoulder height.
6. Ball unintentionally hits a player or equipment - no penalty.
7. Accidental Double hit - no penalty and now only counts for one stroke.
8. Touching sand in a bunker accidentally is now permitted except in the areas right in front of or behind the ball, during the backswing or taking practice swings.
9. Loose impediments can be removed anywhere, including penalty areas.
10. Extra option for dropping an unplayable ball out of a bunker on back on the line relief - two penalty strokes.
11. Water hazards are now called 'penalty areas', and there is no penalty for touching the ground in a penalty area.
12. New local rule allows golfers to drop in the area of where a ball is lost or out of bounds under a two-stroke penalty.
13. Ball moves on green by natural forces after being marked, lifted and replaced - replace without penalty.
14. Ball accidentally moved on the putting green - replace no penalty.
15. Spike marks on the putting green can now be repaired.
16. Positioning a club on the ground for alignment is not permitted- Two penalty strokes.
17. Caddie or partner assisting with alignment once player begins to take stance is not permitted – Two penalty strokes.
18. Putting with flagstick in hole is now permitted.
19. When ball is resting against flagstick in hole, ball is holed when any part of it is beneath surface of the putting green.
Golfers can now access the official 2019 Rules of Golf here.
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