Golf is seeing a change and a modernization to some of its rules in 2019.

The U.S. Golf Association and the Royal & Ancient Club of St. Andrews, along with input from the PGA tour and others, have created new rules for the game that will be implemented next year, all with the goal of making the game more player-friendly, easier to understand, and move faster. We have listed below 10 of the main rule changes that will come into effect for next season.

     1. Dropping Procedure

When taking relief, rather from dropping the ball from shoulder height, you will now be dropping the ball from knee height. This will ensure consistency and simplicity in the dropping process while also preserving the randomness of the drop.

2. Double Hitting

There is no longer a penalty if you are to hit the golf ball twice with your club. Even if it technically takes two strokes to hit the ball, only a single stroke will count toward the golfer’s point total.

3. Reduction of “ball moved” penalties

There will be no penalty for accidentally moving a ball on the putting green or in searching for a ball. A player is not responsible for causing the ball to move unless it is “virtually certain” that they did so.

4. Putting Green Rules

The flagstick no longer has to be attended to or removed when putting.  There is also no penalty if you are to hit an unattended flagstick. Players are now allowed to repair spike marks on the green along with other damage

5. New Bunker Rules

There is no penalty for moving loose impediments in a bunker along with generally touching your hand or club off the sand. A relief option is being introduced as well in case your ball is unplayable in the bunker, then you can choose to move the ball outside the bunker for a two shot penalty.  

     6. Ball Lost or Out of Bounds

A new Local Rule will permit committees to allow golfers the option to drop the ball in the vicinity of where the ball is lost or out of bounds (including the nearest fairway area), under a two-stroke penalty. It addresses concerns raised about the negative impact on pace of play when a player is required to go back under stroke and distance.

7. Water Hazards

There will now be no penalty for moving loose impediments or touching the ground or water in a penalty area.

8. Player Integrity

A player’s “reasonable judgment” will be upheld when estimating or measuring a spot, point, line, area or distance. Even if video evidence later shows it to be wrong.

9. Taking Relief Measurement

A golfers relief area will be measured by using the longest club in his or her bag for one/two club measurements in order to keep consistency throughout their round.

10. Pace of Play

In order to help with the pace of play, some of the above rules have been modified to help this aspect. If you are to lose your ball during a round, you now only have 3 minutes to search for it before taking a drop. It is also recommended that your shot time takes no longer that 40 seconds in order to help with the pace of play.