What are the New Rules of Golf for 2019?


Consultant Solicitor

Thu 20 December 2018 What are the New Rules of Golf for 2019?

Greg Rollingson an experienced personal injury and sports lawyer at Taylor Rose TTKW reviews the new rules of golf effective on 1st January 2019.

In the sporting world, 2018 comes to an end with Alastair Cook Knighted, for his tremendous service to cricket, Geraint Thomas receiving the Sports Personality of the Year Award for his fantastic achievements in cycling and Jose Mourinho sacked as Manager of Manchester United.

In the world of golf, new changes to the rules of golf come into force on 1st January 2019. The changes implemented by golf’s ruling bodies (The R&A and USGA) make some radical, but welcome changes. Intended to make the game faster and the rules themselves easier to understand, these changes are intended to update and modernise some very old rules.

The main changes are as follows:-

  1. Pace of play – recommended a player takes no longer than 40 seconds to make a stroke.
  2. The philosophy of “ready golf” is encouraged.
  3. Time for searching for a ball, now only 3 minutes. Previous rule, introduced in 1904, provided 5 minutes. [Prior to 1904 – 10 minutes]
  4. A golfer is no longer allowed to have a caddie or partner standing behind him once he begins to take his stance.
  5. Players taking a drop should drop the golf ball from knee height (previously shoulder height).
  6. The area for taking a drop is to be measured with the longest club in the player’s golf bag (except a putter). Previously any club.
  7. No longer a penalty for a double hit. This now counts as just one stroke.
  8. No penalty if your ball hits you or your equipment (e.g. golf bag) accidentally after a stroke.
  9. If you accidentally move your golf ball when searching for it, you can replace it without penalty.
  10. No longer any penalty if a ball strikes the flagstick when putting on the putting green.
  11. Spike marks and other damage on the putting green can now be repaired before a player takes his putt.
  12. A ball accidentally moved on the putting green can be replaced without penalty.
  13. If a ball which has been marked, lifted and replaced on the putting green, is moved by wind, to another position, it can be replaced on the original spot.
  14. A golfer now gets free relief for a ball embedded (plugged) in the fairway or rough (But not in a bunker).
  15. If a player faces an unplayable ball in a bunker, he has an extra option now to drop outside the bunker, with a 2 shot penalty.
  16. A player can now remove loose impediments from a bunker.
  17. Penalty Areas now replace Water Hazards. A player can now move loose impediments, ground his club and have a practice swing in Penalty Areas.
  18. A player cannot take relief from a Penalty Area unless he is 95% certain his ball is in the penalty area.
  19. Distance measuring devices can now be used in competitions unless prohibited by any golf club invoking a local rule to the contrary.

Some technical penalties have been removed and some complex situations simplified and modernised. Crucially though the important fundamentals remain intact. Ultimately golf remains a self-regulatory game. The root of the game is still based on the integrity and honesty of each individual golfer. But the rule book certainly now seems less intimidating.

The R&A has produced a simplified and useful fact sheet “20 Must Know Rules of Golf” for 2019. The writer (himself a club golfer) recommends Golfers get a copy of the “Players Edition” of the new Rules. Golfers can also download the App – “R&A - Rules of Golf”. It is also permissible now for golfers to consult the rules on a mobile device during competition without penalty. There may be separate rules on this for Tour Pros in major tournaments.  

Overall the updating and modernisation of the rules are to be welcomed. It is hoped the changes will help speed up the game. Certainly, the new rules promise to be considerably easier to embrace in 2019, than the utter turmoil currently surrounding Brexit!

If you are a golf club concerned about preventative safety issues, someone who has suffered a golf related injury or you have injured someone else with a golf ball, or you have some other sport-related legal problem Taylor Rose TTKW can help you. Please contact Greg Rollingson or David Webb on 020 3959 0550.



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