The US Golf Association and the R&A have announced changes to The Rules of Golf which will be effective at the professional level in January 2019. I’m all for adopting these rules at the club level today. Here is an abbreviated listing of the new rules.
> Dropping procedure: When taking relief, drop from knee height.
> Measuring in taking relief: Use your driver for a 1 or 2 club length relief.
> Removing the penalty for a double hit: When you make a continuous swing.
> Balls Lost or Out of Bounds: Allow golfers the option to drop a ball in the vicinity of where the ball was lost (two-stroke penalty) or re-hit from the initial spot (counting a second stoke plus a penalty stroke).
> Elimination of “ball moved” penalty: There will be no penalty for accidentally moving a ball on the putting green or in searching for a ball.
Relaxed putting green rules:
> There will be no penalty if a ball hits an unattended flag stick.
> Players may repair spike marks and other damage
> There is no penalty for merely touching the line of putt.
Relaxed hazard rules:
> There will be no penalty for moving loose impediments or touching the ground or water in a penalty area.
Relaxed bunker rules:
> There will be no penalty for moving loose impediments in a bunker or for generally touching the sand with a hand or club.
> You are still NOT allowed to intentionally ground your club next to the ball.
> Unplayable Ball: It can be dropped outside the bunker with a two-stroke penalty.
> Relying on player integrity: It is up to a player’s best judge when lifting a ball (checking for ownership or damage) or choosing a line of entry into a hazard (without making an announcement).
> Pace-of-play support: Play ready golf. Up to 3 minutes to search for a lost ball and 40 seconds to play a stroke.
It’s about time that someone brought some common sense to this game. Too bad they didn’t go farther. They could have included: Move your ball out of a divot, clean mud off your ball, remove an embedded ball from the wall of a sand trap or the ground. It takes a long time to make changes in a historic game. Don’t forget to practice with your GOLFSTR+. Buy one today at www.golfstr.com