As every keen player knows, golf rules saw some major changes at the beginning of the year. The 2019 modifications had implications for every level of golf, from the beginner stepping out on the course for the first time to the seasoned pro playing yet another championship.
When they were introduced, the new rules had a mixed effect among players. While some were welcomed, others were not so well received with pro golfers complaining bitterly. As a result, some of the new regulations have been tweaked and as a result, the initial complaints have all but died out. Almost 12 months after their introduction, we take a look at the new golf rules in practice and see how they’re getting on.
Moving the ball
After from 1 January this year, there’s no longer a one-stroke penalty for moving the ball accidentally. The first pro to benefit from the new rule was Webb Simpson at the first PGA Tour Event of the year, the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii. While looking for his ball in the rough, Simpson stood on it and shifted its position. Under the new rules, he was allowed to simply put it back and carry on.
Most players have welcomed this new rule that also makes a round of golf flow more smoothly. However, the emphasis is on fair play and golfers should make sure that the new position doesn’t benefit their shot.
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Keeping the flagstick in
This was one of the new golf rules attracting the most negative publicity. 2019 regulations state that golfers may take a putt with the flagstick in place as long as they decide to do so before they take the shot.
World Number 4 Justin Thomas said this was “really weird. I can’t really take myself seriously if I kept the pin in”. However, World Number 6, Bryson DeChambeau has embraced the new rule wholeheartedly. He claims that it’s statistically proven to be a benefit in 99% of situations. The new golf rules were, after all, brought in to make golf easier, quicker and more enjoyable to play.
Another new rule attracting controversy is the ball drop. Under the new 2019 regulations, players must drop the ball from knee height, no higher. Gone are the days of dropping the ball at arm’s length at shoulder height. Tiger Woods, who has enjoyed one of his best seasons ever this year, says the new rule is “really weird”.
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Tee shot past the forward tee
Zach Johnson benefitted from the new rule at the 83rd Masters at Augusta in April this year. On day two at the 13th, he went for a practice swing, but clipped the ball that bounced off the market tee back to him. Under the old regulations, he would have received a penalty shot, but this year, despite the laughter from all who saw the shot, he had no penalty.
Check out the new golf rules
All golf rules, new and old, are clearly set out in The Player’s Edition of the Rules of Golf that you can consult online or in print. To make sure you always play within the rules, pop a copy in your golf bag so that you can check them out at any time. The Rio Real Golf ProShop also sells copies so pick one up next time you’re getting ready to go on the course.
Did you know?
The best way to familiarise yourself with the new golf rules is to play as much golf as possible. The dynamic pricing system at Rio Real means you can play more golf for less. Book your round now.