There is exciting news from R&A/USGA: The final version of the 2019 Rules of Golf has been published (Monday, March 12th 2018).
Many things have been changed, also from the 2017-draft.
Below I have summarised 12 changes which I think are worth noticing:
- You must drop from knee height!
- Searching time will be 3 minutes instead of 5 minutes.
- You are always allowed to substitute your ball when taking relief… no matter if you take relief with penalty or relief without penalty.
- The rules for water hazards are changed:
- It will be called “penalty areas” (and can include desert, dense woods etc.).
- All penalty areas are as a starting point red.
- It will no longer be possible to drop on “the other side” of the red penalty area… unless the club applies a local rule allowing it.
- The procedure for dropping on “the straight line” will be changed: You must find a spot on the line and drop within one club length of it – not closer to the hole.
- A new playing form is introduced: “Maximum score”, where the club can decide that the highest score on a hole is e.g. a fixed number (e.g. 8 strokes) or double the net par of the hole.
- Out of bounds: The club can in a local rule decide that you can drop on e.g. the fairway with a two-stroke-penalty when your ball is out of bounds!
- Lost ball: The club can in a local rule decide that you can drop e.g. on the fairway with a two-stroke penalty, when you ball is lost e.g. in the rough.
- Many penalties are removed, and therefore there is no penalty when…:
- … making a double-hit.
- … removing leaves etc. from a bunker/penalty area.
- … holing out from the putting green with the flagstick in the hole.
- … unintentionally moving your ball during search.
- The rules for unplayable ball are changed:
- “The straight line” option is changed: You must find a spot on the straight line and then drop within one club length of this spot – not nearer the hole.
- When a ball lies in a bunker, you are allowed with a two-stroke penalty to drop on the “straight line” outside the bunker – same procedure as in no 1.
- You will no longer be allowed to measure one or two club lengths with your putter: “One club length” is considered to be the length of your longest club that is not the putter (usually the driver).
- You are no longer required to call your fellow player etc. when lifting your ball e.g. to identify it or to see if it is damaged.
- You are still going to measure one or two club lengths; the draft from March 2017 suggesting 20 inches and 80 inches has been changed in the final version as of March 2018.