NINE MAJOR CHANGES IN THE rULES OF gOLF FOR 2019
I. Accidents happen: There is no penalty if you accidentally move your ball (or ball marker) on the green. Put the ball back, and you’re good to go. The same applies if you’re searching for a lost ball and mistakenly move it. II. The fix is in: You can fix everything on the green without a penalty. You can also touch the line of your putt with your hand or club so long as you’re not improving it. III. A lost cause: To improve pace of play, golfers now have just three minutes to search for a missing ball rather than five. IV. Knee is the new shoulder: Instead of letting go from shoulder height, players will drop the ball from around their knee. V. No longer a touchy subject: Hitting a ball into a water hazard (now defined as “penalty area”) should come with consequences. But golfers don’t have to be nervous about incurring an additional penalty for a minor rules breach while playing their next shot. You’re free to touch/move loose impediments and ground your club, eliminating any unnecessary worry. The only caveat: You still can’t put your club down and use it to improve the conditions for the stroke. You can remove loose impediments in bunkers, too, although touching the sand in a bunker in front of or behind the ball is still prohibited. VI. Damaged goods: You can play a club that has become damaged in any fashion. If you caused the damage, however, you can’t replace the club with a new one. VII. Twice is … OK: A double hit is almost always accidental, and the outcome so random as to hardly be beneficial. So golfers are now spared the ignominy of adding a penalty for hitting a ball twice with one swing. VIII. The end of flag stick folly: Another nod to common sense eliminates a penalty for hitting a flag stick left in the hole while putting on a green. IX. O.B. option: Courses may implement a Local Rule (not for competition) that offers an alternative to the stroke-and-distance penalty for lost balls or shots hit out-of-bounds. A player may drop a ball anywhere between where the original ball was believed to come to rest (or went out-of-bounds) and just into the edge of the fairway, but no nearer the hole. The golfer takes a two-stroke penalty and plays on instead of returning to the tee. This way, the Local Rule mimics your score if you had played a decent provisional ball.
PACE OF PLAY
It is our goal and our responsibility to play at a good pace and to keep up with the group ahead. Of course, we can play no faster than the group ahead of us, but we should never allow there to be a hole open in front of us. If that is the case, we are doing something very wrong. Any group can experience a slowdown due to lost balls, rules consultation, etc., it's just part of the experience. However, if a group gets more than one shot behind the group ahead, it must take steps to close the gap. Here are some ways to do that.
Always be at your ball, club in hand and ready to hit when it's your turn. Experienced players go over the procedures with newer members, guests or those being screened.
Avoid excessive practice swings. Limit yourself to one practice swing per shot.
play ready golf. Even if you're not "away" you can hit if it's safe to
do so. No need to wait for longer hitters to go first. Just use good
judgment and manners and let your partners know what you're doing. This
works on the greens also. You're part of a team in your foursome,
Cooperate on how you will manage your round without delays. Share
Watch other's balls and help find each others balls.
Assist and instruct newer players in awareness of maintaining the pace of play.
your group is running behind, the first two to putt out should proceed
to the next tee and tee off. This saves time and gives you a good
chance to catch up with the group ahead.
If you see you're falling behind, talk to your playing partners and plan a strategy of ways to catch up.
We're all in this together. Lets have no more open holes in front of our players!