New rules of golf

Golf’s two governing bodies, the R&A and the USGA, have made some extensive changes to the rules of golf that are effective from 1stJanuary 2019. These changes have been brought in to modernise the game and to speed up play.

Have you familiarised yourself with the changes?  If not, then read on as some of the key changes are summarised below (courtesy of Golf Monthly).


  1. When taking relief golfers will now drop from knee height – no longer shoulder height.
  2. There will no longer be a penalty for double-hitting a shot. Golfers will simply count the single stroke they took to strike the ball, rather than counting two shots for hitting the ball twice.
  3. There will be no penalty for accidentally moving your ball on the putting green or when looking for it. A player is not responsible for causing a ball to move unless it is “virtually certain” that they did.
  4. The flagstick no longer has to be attended or removed when putting and there will be no penalty if a golfer hits an unattended flagstick in the hole.
  5. Golfers will be allowed to repair spike marks as well as other damage on the putting green. There is also no penalty for merely touching the line of a putt.
  6. Golfers can now touch the ground with their club in a hazard and can move loose impediments in a hazard without penalty.
  7. As well as that, golfers can move loose impediments in bunkers and will not be penalised for generally grounding their club away from their ball.
  8. You still cannot ground your club when playing a bunker shot. An unplayable lie may be taken in a bunker, with a drop out for two strokes.
  9. Player integrity will be relied on to the point where a player’s “reasonable judgement” will be trustedon things like estimating/measuring a spot, point, line, area or distance.
  10. The 5 minute golf ball search time has been scrapped. From 1stJan 2019, golfers will be allowed only 3 minutes to search for a strayed golf ball.
  11. Golf’s governing bodies are also encouraging ready golf in stroke play and recommend golfers take no longer than 40 seconds over a shot.
  12. Measuring in taking relief – the golfer’s relief area is measured by using the longest club in his/her bag (other than a putter) to measure one club-length or two club-lengths, depending on the situation, providing a consistent process for golfers to establish his/her relief area.

If you want to find out more and understand the background to these changes then click on one of the following links:-

As a starter look at the R&A website:

and/or various websites which have videos demonstrating the revised rules, eg