January 01, 2019

Rules of Golf - New Rules Are In Effect

The new Rules of Golf came into effect on January 1st

The long awaited time has come. The new Modernized Rules of Golf are now in effect around the world. The Rules were completely rewritten and while there are many changes that will impact how the game is played, there are a handful of changes that are more important than the rest. Below is a summary of the most important changes that players should know to avoid penalty.

Summary of the Major Rules Changes

Searching for a Ball – The time allowed to find your ball was reduced from five minutes to three minutes. The “clock” starts when you, your partner, or your caddies begin searching for your ball. Additionally, there is no penalty if you accidentally move your ball while searching. If the ball moves while searching simply estimate where the ball was and replace it.

How to Drop a Ball – The method of dropping a ball has evolved over the past fifty years or so: from dropping over your shoulder, to just shoulder height and arm’s length, to now dropping from knee height. You may stand, squat, sit, kneel, etc., but you must hold the ball at the height of your knee when standing and drop the ball without spinning or tossing it. 

If you drop in an improper method, like from shoulder height, and do not correct your error before making the next stroke you are penalized one stroke for dropping improperly (assuming the ball came to rest after the drop in the correct area).

“The Eraser Rule” – Rule 14.5 is nicknamed the “Eraser Rule” because it helps players avoid penalty when they drop in a wrong method or wrong place. If you drop a ball in the wrong place or using the wrong method, you may lift the ball and correct the mistake before making the stroke.

Help Other Players! It will take some time for players to get accustomed to the new Rules, so when you notice players dropping in the wrong method or wrong place you may do the friendly thing, inform them of the mistake, and advise them to correct the error before making a stroke. 

Where a Dropped Ball Must Come to Rest – When taking relief, with or without penalty, you will always have a “relief area” to where you must drop a ball (either one or two club lengths). When you drop the ball from knee height the ball must land in and come to rest in the relief area. If the ball comes to rest outside the relief area, you must drop the ball a second time. If the ball comes to rest outside the relief area on the second drop, you must then place the ball where it first struck the course on the second drop. 

Measuring – The longest club in your bag, except a putter, always determines the size of your relief area and teeing area. You may estimate an area using a shorter club, but the size of the area is still determined by the longest club in your bag except a putter.

Assisting with Alignment – Your partner or caddie must not stand behind you to assist with alignment. If your partner or caddie stands behind you on an extension of your line of play, when you begin to take your stance, you receive the General Penalty (loss of hole in match play or two strokes in stroke play).

Terminology Changes

In the new Rules, there are many terminology changes. Below are a few of the more common terms you should know.

Temporary Water – replaces “casual water”.

Penalty Area – replaces “water hazard” and “lateral water hazard”

General Area – replaces “through the green” and includes every part of the course except the teeing area, bunkers, penalty areas and the putting green. The fairway and rough have no distinction in nearly all Rules.

Relief Area - is the area within one or two club lengths when taking relief where the ball must be dropped, land in, and come to rest in the area.

The term “Rub of the Green” was eliminated from the Rules.

Taking a little time and learning the new Rules of Golf will help you avoid penalty, possibly save you some strokes, and make the game more enjoyable.

Happy New Year and Good Luck on the Links!


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