Proposed New Rules: Where Do We Start?

The USGA and the R&A have jointly issued a proposed set of Rules that are likely to take effect on January 1, 2019. That may seem like a long ways away but it will be here before you know it.

The USGA is encouraging clubs to “try out” the new Rules and give them some feedback. If that happens, we are all going to need to get up to speed in a hurry. By the way, any scores made under these proposed Rules are not able to be posted under the current handicap system.

So where do we start? If you’ve read any of my previous articles, you know that understanding the Rules of Golf starts with the definitions.

There are 77 definitions in the proposed Rule book and many of them are new. Let’s start with one of them: Areas of the Course

There are five areas that make up the course:

  • The general area,
  • The teeing area of the hole being played,
  • All bunkers,
  • All penalty areas, and
  • The putting green of the hole being played.

Three of those terms we have seen before. However, the “general area” and “penalty areas” are new; sort of…

The “general area” replaces the often misused term “through the green”. We frequently heard announcers say that “he hit the ball through the green” when they should have said “he hit the ball over the green”. The general area is the area of the course that covers all parts of the course except for the other four defined areas.

A “penalty area” is a new term that includes all of what are currently known as water hazards plus any additional area the Committee decides to declare as a penalty area. The penalty areas could include palmettos, dense areas of growth or brush, canyons, desert, jungle, lava rock, etc., plus areas of water.

This term could be a great help to many clubs who now wish to mark certain areas of trouble as a penalty area. Previously, they were handcuffed as to only marking water hazards. Essentially, this could eliminate the need to go back and play under stroke and distance for a lost ball.

Note that Out of Bounds, although still a defined term, is not on the course and thus is not included as an Area of the Course.

With so much ground to cover on the proposed Rules of Golf, this may be the first of many articles on the subject.

Remember, knowing and following the Rules of Golf can assist you in avoiding unnecessary penalties and help you to enjoy this great game of golf even more.

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