New rules, new pleasure

Jordan Spieth: “What’s up ref?”

The R&A and the USGA, the world of golf governing bodies, got an amazing feedback from 22’000 players in some 100 countries, as well as various federations and associations, expressing their opinion on the “New Rules of Golf” to be valid from January 1st 2019. Finalizing the new rules next spring is the goal in order to begin a comprehensive education program later in 2018.
The two decision makers began an extensive review of the actual numerous and complicated rules already in 2012, with the intent of making them easier to understand and apply. A draft of the new rules – reduced from the current 34 to a proposed 24 – was released in March, beginning the six-month feedback period that was open to the entire golf community.
“After listening to golfers and reviewing their extensive comments, one thing is very clear”, said Thomas Pagel, USGA Senior Director of Rules and Amateur Status. “We all share a passion for the game and are eager to be a part of this process and appreciate everyone who took time to provide their thoughts and insights. They have been very helpful and encouraging”.
David Rickman, Executive Director – Governance at the R&A, said “It is pleasing to see that so many people from different parts of the world have taken this opportunity to engage with the process of modernizing these rules. We have received insightful comments and suggestions from throughout the professional and amateur game and will take time to consider the feedback in detail. We will then work on finalizing the changes ahead of their implementation in 2019”.
While the feedback will continue to be analyzed over the next few months, several common themes already emerged.
Golfers are enthusiastic about the scope and direction of the overall changes, such as pace-of-play improvements, the elimination of penalties and streamlined procedures.
Golfers provided the most feedback on the proposed rules changes focused on the putting green (such as putting with the flagstick left in the hole, repairing spike marks and eliminating the penalty for accidentally moving a ball); the creation of “penalty areas” (extending water hazard type relief and eliminating penalties for moving loose impediments and grounding a club); and the new dropping procedures (including the size of “relief areas”).
Golfers strongly welcomed the new Player’s edition of the rules and found it much easier to read and understand. But the current 2016 edition of the Rules of Golf supported by Rolex remains in effect when playing, posting scores or competing until the January 1st 2019 of the modernized new rules. JD/pph