New year, new rules for our courses

It's hoped the ruling changes will make golf easier to understand and speed up play. Picture Ian Rutherford
It's hoped the ruling changes will make golf easier to understand and speed up play. Picture Ian Rutherford

It was out with the old and in with the new in the golfing world as the clock welcomed 2019 in on January 1.

The sport has introduced some subtle changes aimed at making the game easier to understand, quicker to play and more accessible.

They officially came into play at the beginning of this year, meaning clubs across the world will already have adopted them.

Governing bodies, the St Andrews based The R&A and the USGA embarked on the process to modernise the rules in 2012.

A spokesman for the R&A said: “As part of The R&A’s goal to ensure that the game of golf is thriving in 50 years from now, we believe you will find the modernised rules fairer, less complicated, more welcoming, and more aligned with issues facing the game such as improved pace of play and environmental stewardship.”

Here are 20 must know rules of golf changes for 2019:

• Drop from knee height (not shoulder height)

• Measure the area to drop in with the longest club in your bag (except a putter)

• Drop in and play from the relief area

• When dropping back-on-the-line, your ball cannot be played from nearer the hole than your chosen reference point

• Time to search – three minutes (not five minutes)

• If you accidentally move your ball when searching for it, replace it without penalty

• No penalty for a double hit – it only counts as one stroke

• No penalty if your ball hits you or your equipment accidentally after a stroke

• No penalty if your ball strikes the flagstick when you have chosen to leave it in the hole

• Spike mark and other shoe damage on the putting green can be repaired

• Ball accidentally moved on putting green – no penalty and replace

• Ball marked, lifted and replaced on putting green is moved by wind to another position –replace ball on the original spot

• Penalty areas replace water hazards, and you can move loose impediments, ground your club and take practice swings in penalty areas without penalty, just as you can on the fairway or in the rough

• You can’t take relief from a penalty area unless you are at least 95% certain your ball is in the penalty area

• In bunkers you can move loose impediments

• In bunkers you cannot touch the sand with your club in the area right in front of or right behind your ball, during your backswing or in taking practice swings

• Free relief is allowed if your ball is embedded on the fairway or in the rough (embedded means part of your ball is below the level of the ground)

• Unplayable ball in bunker – extra option to drop outside the bunker for two penalty strokes

• You cannot have your caddie or your partner standing behind you once you begin taking your stance

• Pace of Play - it is recommended that you take no longer than 40 seconds to make a stroke