Golfers the world over will have their say in commenting on the proposed new golf rule changes that are being considered by the USGA and R&A, the two governing bodies of the sport. Some of the proposed changes have been long overdue, and these sweeping changes will not only modernize the rules but make them easier to understand and apply.
Officials say that 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.
Here are several of the proposed changes:
• There is no longer a penalty for accidentally moving your ball while searching for it, or for accidentally moving your ball or ball marker on the green.
• There is no longer a penalty when your ball in motion accidentally hits you (such as after your ball bounces off a bunker face).
• When taking relief, the dropping procedure has been relaxed, with the recommendation that the ball be dropped from at least one inch above the ground instead of from a golfer’s shoulder height.
• Golfers will now have three minutes to find a lost ball instead of the current five minutes.
• There is no longer a penalty if you play a ball from the green and it hits the unattended flagstick in the hole.
• You may repair almost all damage marks found on the green.
• Red- and yellow-marked “penalty areas” may now cover areas such as deserts, jungles, or lava rock fields, in addition to areas of water.
• There is no longer a penalty if you touch or move loose impediments or touch the ground with your hand or your club in a penalty area.
• There is no longer a penalty if you touch or move loose impediments in a bunker; you are now prohibited only from touching the sand with your hand or club to test the condition of the bunker or with your club in the area right behind or in front of the ball, in making a practice swing or in making the backswing for your stroke.
• Your caddie is not allowed to stand on a line behind you from the time you begin taking your stance until you have made your stroke.
To share your thoughts on these rule change proposals, go online at usga.org/rules or randa.org through August 31, 2017.
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