The Rules of Assuagement

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Starting next year, golfers will receive much-needed relief from some of the game’s more archaic penalties

By Ed Mate, Executive Director, Colorado Golf Association

When the famous Times Square ball drops on New Year’s Eve to welcome 2019, for the first time it will be dropped from knee height! Yes, the much-anticipated 2019 modernization of the Rules of Golf will take effect January 1, 2019. One of the biggest changes is the dropping procedure, which will be lowered from shoulder height to knee height. This change symbolizes the overall theme of the newly “modernized” code that governs the game: Bring the rules down to earth to make them easier to read, easier to understand and more intuitive. We’ve summarized the major changes.

On the Green

Action: I tap down a clear spike mark on my line of putt.
2018: General penalty (two strokes in stroke play; loss of hole in match play).
2019: No penalty.

Action: I hit my putt too hard and it strikes the flagstick, which has been removed from the hole and is laying on the green. (Unintentional)
2018: General penalty (two strokes in stroke play; loss of hole in match play). Play it as it lies.
2019: No penalty. Play it as it lies.

Action: My caddie touches my line of putt to show me where to hit my putt.
2018: General penalty (two strokes in stroke play; loss of hole in match play).
2019: No penalty.

Action: While reading my putt I walk to the halfway point of my putt and lightly touch the green on my line of putt.
New_Rules_Golf_On_The_Green2018: General penalty (two strokes in stroke play; loss of hole in match play).
2019: No penalty.

Action: My caddie marks and lifts my ball (without my express authority).
2018: One-stroke penalty.
2019: No penalty.

Action: While waiting my turn to putt, I mark and lift my ball while another ball is in motion rolling toward my ball
2018: General penalty (two strokes in stroke play; loss of hole in match play).
2019: No penalty.

Action: I mistakenly mark and lift my opponent’s ball on the putting green.
2018: One-stroke penalty.
2019: No penalty.

Action: After marking and replacing my ball on the green, the ball moves ever so slightly due to gravity.
2018: Depends on committee verdict on what caused ball to move.
2019: No penalty. Replace.

Action: After marking and replacing my ball on the green, the wind moves it.
On_The_Tee_New_Rules_Golf2018: No penalty. Play it as it lies.
2019: No penalty. Replace.

Action: I strike the flagstick after a 3-foot putt and the ball goes in the hole.
2018: General penalty (two strokes in stroke play; loss of hole in match play) and ball is holed.
2019: No penalty

On the Tee

Action: I make a stroke (intent) on my tee shot, graze the ball and it falls off the tee but remains in the teeing ground. I pick it up and re-tee it.
2018: One-stroke penalty (stroke and distance).
2019: No penalty.

In a Bunker

Action: My ball in a bunker, I touch the sand with my club several feet away and not in a manner that tests the condition of the bunker.
2018: General penalty (two strokes in stroke play; loss of hole in match play).
2019: No penalty

Action: My ball comes to rest in a very bad lie in a bunker. I want to remove it and drop behind the bunker for a two-stroke penalty.
2018: Not allowed. DQ for serious breach.
2019: Allowed.

Action: I remove a loose impediment from a bunker in which my ball lies.
2018: General penalty (two strokes in stroke play; loss of hole in match play).
2019: No penalty.

In a Water Hazard/Penalty Area

bunker_New_Rules_GolfAction: I ground my club in a water hazard/penalty area.
2018: General penalty (two strokes in stroke play; loss of hole in match play).
2019: No penalty.

Action: While playing out of a water hazard/penalty area, I touch a loose reed on my backswing.
2018: General penalty (two strokes in stroke play; loss of hole in match play).
2019: No penalty.

Action: During a round I play a practice stroke from a water hazard/ penalty area.
2018: General penalty (two strokes in stroke play; loss of hole in match play).
2019: No penalty.

Action: My ball is in a lateral water hazard. I want to drop it on the opposite margin of where it last crossed the margin of the hazard.
2018: Allowed.
2019: Not allowed unless local rule in effect.

Clubs

Action: I slam my putter against my foot bending the shaft slightly. I tap in a putt with the damaged club and continue to use it.
2018: Disqualification.
2019: No penalty.

clubs_New_Rules_of_golfAction: A fellow competitor throws a club in anger, striking my bag and breaking my wedge.
2018: I can replace the club.
2019: I can replace the club.

Action: I break my 6-iron on my follow-through while playing a stroke.
2018: I can replace the club.
2019: I cannot replace the club.

Accidental Situations

Action: After marking and replacing my ball on the green, I accidentally move it with my putter head.
2018: One-stroke penalty, unless local rule in effect. Replace.
2019: No penalty. Replace.

Action: My ball in motion accidentally hits the foot of my caddie who is attending the flagstick.
2018: General penalty (two strokes in stroke play; loss of hole in match play). Play it as it lies.
2019: No penalty. Play it as it lies.

Action: I accidentally kick my ball during search.
2018: One-stroke penalty, unless ball is covered by leaves in a hazard or in GUR. Replace.
2019: No penalty. Replace.

Action: While playing a short shot out of the rough I accidentally strike the ball more than once.
2018: Stroke counts + penalty stroke. Play ball where it lies.
2019: Stroke counts. No penalty. Play ball where it lies.

Dropping

Action: I drop my ball within one club length of my nearest point of relief. The ball lands within the club length but rolls out of the one-club-length area but less than two club lengths, no closer to hole.
2018: Ball is in play.
2019: Ball must be re-dropped.

Action: I measure my dropping area with my long putter and drop my ball more than a driver’s length from my nearest point of relief.
2018: No penalty.
2019: General penalty (two strokes in stroke play; loss of hole in match play).

dropping_new_rules_golfAction: I drop my ball from shoulder height.
2018: Ball is in play.
2019: Must be re-dropped.

Action: After a drop and re-drop my ball rolls closer to the hole than my nearest point of relief.
2018: Place on spot it landed on second drop.
2019: Place on spot it landed on second drop.

Relief Situations

Action: My ball comes to rest in a hole dug by a dog.
2018: No relief.
2019: Free relief.

Action: My ball comes to rest in casual water. The ball is visible and easily retrievable. I don’t want to get my new shoes wet so I substitute a ball when taking relief.
2018: General penalty (two strokes in stroke play; loss of hole in match play).
2019: No penalty.

Action: My ball embeds in the rough.
2018: No relief unless local rule is in effect.
2019: Free relief. Can drop the ball within one club length.

Action: I mark and lift my ball for identification and don’t announce my intent nor give my fellow competitors the opportunity to observe.
2018: One-stroke penalty.
2019: No penalty.

Action: My ball comes to rest close to, but not on, a wrong putting green. In order to play my next stroke I will be standing on the wrong putting green.
2018: No relief.
2019: Free relief.

Action: My ball imbeds in the earthen “lip” of a bunker.
2018: Ball is in the bunker. No relief.
2019: Ball is NOT in the bunker. Free relief under embedded ball rule.

Conduct of Competition

Action: In stroke play, my group decides to play “ready golf” to catch up after a lost ball.
2018: Disapproving looks from the committee.
2019: Committee applauds!

Action: The committee uses USGA Tournament Management Software (Golf Genius) as an electronic scorecard, allowing s players to sign and attest the card electronically.
2018: Not allowed.
2019: Permitted.

Acton: A desert golf course marks the desert area surrounding every hole as a lateral hazard.
2018: Not allowed. Not a water hazard.
2019: Allowed. Penalty area.

Action: I use my distance-measuring device in my club championships.
2018: DQ unless local rule in place.
2019: No penalty unless local rule prohibits.

Miscellaneous

Action: My caddie stands behind me to line me up on a shot off of the green and moves before I play the stroke.
2018: No penalty.pace_of_play_new_rules_golf
2019: General penalty (two strokes in stroke play; loss of hole in match play).

Action: I find my ball after searching for three minutes but before five.
2018: No penalty.
2019: Ball is lost.

Action: I play a stroke and my ball strikes my opponent or his/her equipment.
2018: I have the option to play the ball as it lies or replay without penalty.
2019: No penalty. Play the ball as it lies.

For videos further explaining the changes, see Ed Mate’s “Ready for the 2019 Rules” at coloradogolf.org.

Playlist of all Rules change videos
Click this image for a playlist of all videos related to the 2019 Rules changes.

 


 

Colorado AvidGolfer Magazine is the state’s leading resource for golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it, publishing eight issues annually and proudly delivering daily content via coloradoavidgolfer.com.

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