From January 2019 the Rules of Golf will change. - R&A and USGA
A new set of Rules for Golf have been decided on by the R&A and the USGA. The new rules will apply from 1st January 2019. Proposals for the changes were sent out in 2017, calling for feedback and input from the world's golfers. 30,000 replies came in and the suggestions were considered until general agreement was reached by the governing bodies of both the R&A and the USGA. Copies of the new rules will be distributed worldwide in many languages in September 2018. The main reasons for the changes are to make golf easier to understand and to increase the pace of play.
Some of the changes are as follows:
- There will be no penalty if the ball is accidentally hit more than once in the course of a stroke.
- When taking relief, golfers will now drop the ball from knee height.
- In measuring relief space, the longest club in the player's bag will define either a one or a two club area.
- Local golf committees can let golfers drop the ball near where it was lost or out of bounds, to increase pace of play.
- Reduction of "ball moved" penalties. A player will not be responsible for moving a ball unless it is "virtually certain" that he or she did so.
- Relaxed putting green rules. Players may putt without having the flagstick attended or removed; players may repair spike marks or other damage made by shoes or animals etc. No penalty for simply touching the line of putt.
- Relaxed rules for penalty areas or water hazards. There will be no penalty for removing loose impediments or for 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 touching the sand with hand or club. However a limited set of restrictions will remain, to maintain the challenge of playing from sand. If a ball is deemed "unplayable" in a bunker then it may be played from outside the bunker with a two-stroke penalty.
- There will be a greater reliance on player integrity. When estimating a point, line, area or distance, a player's "reasonable judgement" in that estimation will be upheld, ... even if video evidence later proves it to be wrong.
- Pace of Play support: Time for looking for lost balls reduced from 5 minutes to 3, recommendations that players take no more than 40 seconds to play a stroke, and other related changes. Ref site: 'Bunkered'