Golf is a 600-year old sport that originated in Scotland. Yet until now, a number of people are still unclear about the rules in playing the game of modern golf. Throughout its long history, the rules of golf have undergone several changes.
The last important revision was in 1984 when the United States Golf Association (USGA) and R&A joined forces to come up with a new rule book for the game of golf. The process to consolidate all of the changes and validate uniformity of golf terminologies began in 1980. This process was thorough, and therefore took four years to complete. Since then, a couple of small changes to the rules of golf have taken effect.
The Rules for Modern Golf
The move to create new, standardized rules for modern golf started in 2012. After a long wait, the USGA and R&A have finally announced in March of this year that the new Rules of Golf is completed. The two organizations made an effort to first seek out the feedback and opinions of the golf community worldwide. For this reason, finalizing the new rules took longer than anticipated. Prior to the publication of the modern rules of the game, the 2019 Rules of Golf also underwent extensive reviews. The implementation of the new game policies are set to start by January 1, 2019.
These new guidelines aim to simplify the golf rules in a way that even golf newbies will easily understand. The golfing community is also hopeful that this new development will encourage many people to try the sport. Some of the principal changes that are included in the new rules are the following:
Dropping a ball
In the proposed rule that was published in 2017, dropping a ball when taking relief can be done from any height you wish. This proposal, though, failed to make it to the final rulebook. For consistency, new guidelines state that dropping a ball should now be done from the knee to the relief area.
Golfers need to find their ball on a course faster, as the new rules shortened the allotted search time to three minutes from the current search time of five minutes.
At the start of 2019, golfers will no longer receive a penalty for hitting the golf ball on a course more than once by mistake. However, the players need to count the unintentional stroke made.
Fixing spike marks
The new rule will now allow golfers to repair spike marks on the putting green that are made by a person or animal. Players, though, should be mindful of the time it will take them to do it so as not to violate the rules in pace of play.
Information Dissemination Efforts
To make sure that the entire golf community is well-informed about the major changes in the new rules, the USGA and R&A started publishing education materials last September 2018. Some of the reference materials published are: The Player’s Edition of the Rules of Golf, The Rules of Golf, and The Official Guide to the Rules of Golf.
Videos and infographics detailing the major changes in the rules of golf are also available in the official website of the USGA and R&A. Moreover, translation efforts are underway so the 2019 Rules of Golf will soon be available in various languages.
You can access the documents and materials pertaining the new rules at www.RandA.org and www.usga.org/rules.
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