Touching on the New Rules

Touching on the New Rules

There have been a lot of changes in the Rules of Golf in 2019. Most of them are great, common sense changes that encompass the overall concept that true accidents will now be forgiven. Several other changes involve terminology that makes sense but could also be confusing for experienced golfers. Lastly, there are a few changes that encourage a faster pace-of-play.

Accidents are now forgiven!

Crashed golf cart in creek

Well, maybe not these accidents but nearly every time you accidentally move your golf ball you will not be penalized.

Golfer Receives No Penalty

Here is a list of the most common instances where accidentally moving your ball will no longer be penalized:

  • Ball Accidentally Struck More than Once.
  • Ball in Motion Accidentally Deflected. (Including your own equipment or yourself)
  • Ball Moved During Search.
  • No Penalty for Moving a Ball on the Putting Green
  • Note: The “Known of Virtually Certain” standard (meaning at least 95% likely) will now apply to all questions of fact about why a ball at rest moved.

Golfer Still Penalized

In the 2019 Rules of Golf you will find that the player’s intent is the main factor for many rules, and that in nearly every case that the ball moves it should be replaced. Instances where a player would still be penalized if the ball moves:

  • Except on the putting green, when a player/partner/caddie accidentally move their ball at rest.
  • If ball moves while removing a loose impediment.
  • Any action in the earlier section that the player did deliberately.

New Golf Terminology for 2019

One of the biggest changes to the Rules of Golf in 2019 is the many new terms that we will be using. The idea of changing a bunch of words seems like a mistake but once these terms become more natural I think we will see it to be one of the better changes to the rule book.

The General Area (Formerly “Throught The Green”)
The entire course except for the four specific areas of the course described in Rule 2.2b.
Penalty Area (Formerly “Water Hazard” or “Lateral Water Hazard”)
An area from which relief with a one-stroke penalty is allowed when the player’s ball comes to rest there.
  • Any body body of water on the course (marked or not), including a sea, lake, river, ditch, survice drainage ditch, or other open watercourse (even if not containing water), and
  • Any other part of the course the Committee defines as a penalty area.
General Penalty
Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play.
No Play Zone
A part of the course where the committee has prohibited play.
Temporary Water (Formerly “Casual Water”)
Any temporary accumulation of water on the surface of the ground (such as puddles from rain or irrigation or an overflow from a body of water) that:
  • Is not in a penalty area, and
  • Can be seen before or after the player takes a stance (without pressing down excessively with his or her feet).

Many of these changes seem silly but they will have a lasting affect on the modernization of the Rules of Golf. To see more of the new or altered terms in the Rules of Golf click here.

Legislating Pace of Play

A major focus of making these changes was to encourage a more enjoyable pace of play. Here are a few of the rules that will have a direct impact on how long a round of golf will take:

  • Rule 5.6 now directly affects pace of play
  • Rule 18.2 now allows the player 3 minutes to search for a lost ball instead of the previous 5 minutes.
  • An overall simplification of the rules will improve pace of play.

Overall, there were many great changes to the Rules of Golf. While it will be difficult for many of us to remember to use these changes, 5 years from now we will be glad that we did.

As we dive deeper into the year and these changes, expect to see more posts on individual areas of the Rules of Golf.

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