FAR HILLS, N.J., USA and ST ANDREWS, SCOTLAND (March 1, 2017)
– The USGA and The R&A have unveiled a preview of proposed new Rules of Golf, as part of a joint initiative to modernize the Rules and make them easier to understand and apply.
for a summary chart of the proposed changes.
The online release of this preview begins a six-month feedback and evaluation period during which all golfers worldwide can learn about the proposed changes and provide input before they are finalized in 2018 and take effect January 1, 2019.
The announcement follows a comprehensive review process that began in 2012 with a working group of key USGA and R&A Rules administrators, professional tour officials and other Rules experts. While the Rules are revised every four years, this is the first fundamental review since 1984, and was established to ensure the Rules fit the needs of today’s game and the way it is played around the world.
“We are excited and encouraged by the potential this work brings, both through the proposed new Rules and the opportunities to use technology to deliver them,” said Thomas Pagel, senior director of Rules & Amateur Status for the USGA. “We look forward to an ongoing conversation with golfers during the feedback period in the months ahead.”
David Rickman, executive director – Governance at The R&A, said, “Our aim is to make the Rules easier to understand and to apply for all golfers. We have looked at every Rule to try to find ways to make them more intuitive and straightforward, and we believe we have identified many significant improvements. It is important that the Rules continue to evolve and remain in tune with the way the modern game is played, but we have been careful not to change the game’s longstanding principles and character.”
The proposed 24 new Rules, reduced from the current 34, have been written in a user-friendly style with shorter sentences, commonly used phrases, bulleted lists and explanatory headings. The initiative also focuses on assessing the overall consistency, simplicity and fairness of the Rules for play.
The Rules are currently delivered in more than 30 languages, and the proposed wording will support easier translation worldwide. When adopted, the Rules will be supported by technology that allows the use of images, videos and graphics.
Highlights of the proposed Rule changes include:
- Elimination or 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; and a player is not responsible for causing a ball to move unless it is “virtually certain” that he or she did so.
- Relaxed putting green rules: There will be no penalty if a ball played from the putting green hits an unattended flagstick in the hole; players may putt without having the flagstick attended or removed. Players may repair spike marks and other damage made by shoes, animal damage and other damage on the putting green and there is no penalty for merely touching the line of putt.
- Relaxed rules for “penalty areas” (currently called “water hazards”): Red and yellow-marked penalty areas may cover areas of desert, jungle, lava rock, etc., in addition to areas of water; expanded use of red penalty areas where lateral relief is allowed; and there will be no penalty for moving loose impediments or touching the ground or water in a penalty area.