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Ballarat Golf Club


2019 rules intro

 

For the past five years golf’s governing bodies have been working on a makeover of the Rules of Golf. And here they are. As of 1 January 2019, the results of the first fundamental review in 34 years come into effect. So with the aid of the various resources on this page, we present the information you will need to support your transition to the new Rules (whether you are a golfer, an administrator, or both).

The simple, bite-sized videos and accompanying explanations are an excellent resource and we encourage all golfers to have a look through them. They’re organised into eight categories and, within each item, you will find the main reasons for each change.

But remember, the new Rules aren’t in place until the new year, but it will pay to become familiar with them in advance.

 
Dropping & Measuring
Measuring relief area for dropped ball

Players will continue to drop a ball when taking relief, but the dropping procedure will be changed in several ways as detailed in Rule 14.3: The focus of the dropping procedure will be on a specific “relief area” set by the Rule under which relief is being taken and will be either one or two club-lengths from a reference point (and may have certain other limitations). The relief area is a fixed size for each player and is pre-determined based on the clubs the player has selected for play.
New procedure for dropping ball

Players will continue to drop a ball when taking relief, but the dropping procedure will be changed in several ways as detailed in Rule 14.3: How a ball may be dropped is simplified; the only requirement will be that the ball be let go from knee height so that it falls through the air and does not touch any part of the player’s body or equipment before it hits the ground.

 

Where dropped ball must come to rest

Players will continue to drop a ball when taking relief, but the dropping procedure will be changed in several ways as detailed in Rule 14.3: The ball will need only to be dropped in and come to rest in the relief area; and there will be no re-drop requirement if the dropped ball accidentally hits a person or object after hitting the ground but before coming to rest in the relief area. If the dropped ball comes to rest outside the relief area, it will be dropped a second time; if it comes to rest outside the relief area after being dropped a second time it will be placed where it first touched the ground. If the placed ball will not come to rest on that spot after two attempts, the player will then place the ball on the nearest spot (not nearer the hole) where it will come to rest.
How to take sideways relief

Players will continue to drop a ball when taking relief, but the dropping procedure will be changed in several ways as detailed in Rule 14.3: The focus of the dropping procedure will be on a specific “relief area” set by the Rule under which relief is being taken and will be either one or two club-lengths from a reference point (and may have certain other limitations). The ball will need only to be dropped in and come to rest in the relief area; and there will be no re-drop requirement if the dropped ball accidentally hits a person or object after hitting the ground but before coming to rest in the relief area. If the dropped ball comes to rest outside the relief area, it will be dropped a second time; if it comes to rest outside the relief area after being dropped a second time it will be placed where it first touched the ground. If the placed ball will not come to rest on that spot after two attempts, the player will then place the ball on the nearest spot (not nearer the hole) where it will come to rest.

 

How to take back-on-the-line relief

Players will continue to drop a ball when taking relief, but the dropping procedure will be changed in several ways as detailed in Rule 14.3: The focus of the dropping procedure will be on a specific “relief area” set by the Rule under which relief is being taken and will be either one or two club-lengths from a reference point (and may have certain other limitations). The ball will need only to be dropped in and come to rest in the relief area; and there will be no re-drop requirement if the dropped ball accidentally hits a person or object after hitting the ground but before coming to rest in the relief area. If the dropped ball comes to rest outside the relief area, it will be dropped a second time; if it comes to rest outside the relief area after being dropped a second time, the player must place a ball on the spot where the ball dropped the second time first touched the ground. If the placed ball will not come to rest on that spot after two attempts, the player will then place the ball on the nearest spot (not nearer the hole) where it will come to rest.
Longest club, putter aside, to be used for measuring
rules longest club
A club-length will be defined as the length of the longest club in the player’s bag, except that this cannot be his or her putter. The relief area for dropping a ball will be a fixed size of either one or two club-lengths depending on which relief Rule is being used. The relief area is a fixed size for each player and is pre-determined based on the clubs the player has selected for play.

 

Ball at Rest
No penalty for ball moved while searching

Under Rule 7.4, if a player accidentally moves his or her ball while searching for it: The player will get no penalty for causing it to move, and The ball will always be replaced; if the exact spot is not known, the player will replace the ball on the estimated original spot (including on, under or against any attached natural or man-made objects which the ball had been at rest under or against).
No penalty for moving ball on green

Under Rule 13.1d, there will no longer be a penalty if a player (or opponent) accidentally causes the player’s ball to move on the putting green. The substance of this Rule change has already been implemented as of 1 January 2017 by authorizing Committees to adopt a Local Rule that eliminates the penalty for accidentally moving a ball on the putting green.

 

Replacing ball when original spot unknown

Under Rule 14.2c, in that same situation: The ball will always be placed on a spot rather than being dropped. If the exact original spot is not known, the player will be required to replace the ball on its estimated spot (including on, under or against any attached natural objects that the ball had been at rest on, under or against).
Determining why ball moved

Under Rule 9.2, the “known or virtually certain” standard (meaning at least 95% likely) will apply to all questions of fact about why a ball at rest moved: A player, opponent or outside influence will be found to have caused the ball to move if the player, opponent or outside influence was known or virtually certain to have caused it to move; otherwise it will be assumed that natural forces caused it to move.

 

Ball in Motion
No penalty for ball moved while searching
rules ball in motion
Under Rule 11.1, for all accidental deflections, including when the ball hits the player or opponent or their equipment or caddies: There will be no penalty and the ball will be played as it lies (with limited exceptions). To address any concern that a player might deliberately position equipment to act as a backstop and potentially deflect his or her ball, there will be a penalty if the ball hits equipment that was positioned for that purpose (Rule 11.2a).
 

 

Relief Rules
Embedded ball in the rough
rules ball in rough
The current default position in the Rules will be reversed: Rule 16.3 will allow relief for a ball embedded anywhere in the “general area” (that is, the area currently known as “through the green”), except when embedded in sand. But a Committee may adopt a Local Rule restricting relief to a ball embedded in those parts of the general area cut to fairway height or less. In taking relief, the player will drop the original ball or a substituted ball within one club-length of (but not nearer the hole than) the spot right behind where the ball was embedded.
Ball change always allowed when taking relief

Under Rule 14.3, when taking relief, the player will always be allowed the choice to substitute a ball or to use the original ball, including: When taking penalty relief as well as when taking free relief (Rules 15-19).

 

Time reduced for ball search
rules search
Under Rule 18.2, the time for a ball search (before the ball becomes lost) will be reduced from 5 minutes to 3 minutes.
 

 

Areas of the Course
When to replace moved ball on green

Rule 13.1d, will revise the procedure for when a ball on the putting green is moved by wind, water or other natural forces, so that it must sometimes be replaced and sometimes be played from its new spot: If the ball had been lifted and replaced on its original spot before it moved, the ball must always be replaced on its original spot, regardless of what caused it to move. The ball must be played from its new spot only if the ball had not been lifted and replaced before it moved.
No penalty for moving loose impediments in bunker

Under Rules 12.2a and 12.2b, the player will be allowed to touch or move loose impediments in a bunker and will be generally allowed to touch the sand with a hand or club; but a limited prohibition continues so that the player must not: Deliberately touch the sand in a bunker with a hand, club, rake or other object to test the condition of the sand to learn information for the stroke, or Touch the sand in a bunker with a club in making a practice swing, in grounding the club right in front of or behind the ball, or in making the backswing for a stroke.

 

Spike mark repairs allowed on green

Rule 13.1c(2) allows repair of almost any damage on the green: “Damage on the putting green” will be defined to include all types of damage (such as ball-marks, shoe damage, indentations from a club or flagstick, animal damage, etc.), except aeration holes, natural surface imperfections or natural wear of the hole.
Penalty relief always allowed from bunker

The player will have an extra option allowing relief outside the bunker using the back-on-the-line procedure, but for a total of two penalty strokes (Rule 19.3b).

 

Elimination of opposite side relief for red penalty areas
rule red stake
Rule 17.1d will remove the option to take relief on the opposite side of a red penalty area (the new term that will include what is today called a lateral water hazard): This means that, when a ball is in a red penalty area, the player will have three options for relief (all for a one-stroke penalty) rather than four options as today. But a Committee could still adopt a Local Rule allowing opposite side relief on those holes where it believes the other relief options are not viable.
Expanded use of red-marked penalty areas
rules expanded red
Under the new Rules, “Water hazards” will be superseded by the expanded concept of “penalty areas”, and Rule 17 will provide the same basic options for relief that exist under the current Rules: A penalty area will include both (1) all areas currently defined in the Rules as a water hazard or lateral water hazard and (2) any other areas the Committee chooses to define as penalty areas (with recommended guidelines to be provided in the guidebook). Penalty areas may therefore include areas such as deserts, jungles, lava rock fields, etc. The term “hazard” will no longer be used in the Rules.

 

Relaxing rules in penalty area

Under Rule 17: There will no longer be any special restrictions when a ball is in a “penalty area” (the expanded designation for the area that includes what are now called water hazards). A player will be allowed to touch or move loose impediments and touch the ground with hand or club (such as grounding the club right behind the ball) for any reason, subject only to the prohibition on improving conditions for the stroke (see new Rule 8.1a).
Areas committee can mark as penalty areas

Under the new Rules, “Water hazards” will be superseded by the expanded concept of “penalty areas”, and Rule 17 will provide the same basic options for relief that exist under the current Rules: A penalty area will include both (1) all areas currently defined in the Rules as a water hazard or lateral water hazard and (2) any other areas the Committee chooses to define as penalty areas (with recommended guidelines to be provided in the guidebook). Penalty areas may therefore include areas such as deserts, jungles, lava rock fields, etc. The term “hazard” will no longer be used in the Rules.

 

Flagstick can remain in when putting

Under Rule 13.2a(2): There will no longer be a penalty if a ball played from the putting green hits a flagstick left in the hole. Players will not be required to putt with the flagstick in the hole; rather, they will continue to have the choice to have it removed (which includes having someone attend the flagstick and remove it after the ball is played).
Touching line of putt allowed

The prohibition of touching the line of play on the putting green will be eliminated: There will no longer be a penalty for merely touching the line of play on the putting green (the term “line of play” will apply everywhere on the course including the putting green, and the term “line of putt” will no longer be used). But the player will still be subject to the prohibition on improving his or her line of play on the putting green (see Rule 8.1a, as limited by 8.1b).
Equipment
Use of distance-measuring devices
rules measuring device
The current default position in the Rules will be reversed: Rule 4.3 will allow players to use DMDs to measure distance. But a Committee may adopt a Local Rule prohibiting such use of DMDs.
When you can replace a damaged club
rules damage club Under Rule 4.1: A player will be allowed to keep using and/or to repair any club damaged during the round, no matter what the damage and even if the player damaged it in anger. A player will not be allowed to replace a damaged club, except when it is damaged during the round by an outside influence or natural forces or by someone other than the player or his or her caddie.

 

Use of clubs damaged during round
rules use damaged
A player will be allowed to keep using and/or to repair any club damaged during the round, no matter what the damage and even if the player damaged it in anger. A player will not be allowed to replace a damaged club, except when it is damaged during the round by an outside influence or natural forces or by someone other than the player or his or her caddie.
 

 

Playing a Ball
Ball accidentally struck more than once during stroke
rules double hit
Under Rule 10.1a, if the player’s club accidentally hits the ball more than once during a single stroke: There will be no penalty and the ball will be played as it lies.
Caddie lifting ball on green

Under Rule 14.1b: The player’s caddie will be allowed to mark and lift the player’s ball on the putting green any time the player is allowed to do so, without needing authorization. The caddie will continue to be allowed to replace the player’s ball only if the caddie was the one who had lifted or moved the ball.

 

Caddie standing behind to line player up

Under Rule 10.2b(4): The current prohibition will be extended so that, once the player begins taking a stance for the stroke, and until the stroke is made, the player’s caddie must not deliberately stand on or close to an extension of the line of play behind the ball for any reason. There will be no penalty if the caddie accidentally stands on or close to an extension of the line of play behind the ball, rather than in trying to help in lining up.
 

 

When to Play During a Round
Capping stroke play hole scores allowed

“Maximum Score” will be a new, additional form of stroke play: A player’s score for each hole is capped at a maximum set by the Committee, which may be fixed (such as 6, 8, 10, etc.), related to par (such as two times par or triple bogey), or related to the player’s handicap (such as net double bogey). A player who does not complete a hole (often referred to informally as “picking up”) will not be disqualified, but simply gets the maximum score for the hole.
Encouraging prompt pace of play

Rule 5.6 will encourage prompt pace of play by recommending that: Players should recognize that their pace of play affects others and they should play promptly throughout the round (such as by preparing in advance for each stroke and moving promptly between strokes and in going to the next tee), A player should make a stroke in no more than 40 seconds (and usually in less time) after the player is able to play without interference or distraction, and Committees should adopt a Pace of Play Policy (rather than only say they may do so). In addition, new Rule 6.4 will expressly allow playing out of turn in match play by agreement, and for stroke play, will affirmatively allow and encourage players to play out of turn in a safe and responsible way to save time or for convenience (also known as “ready golf”).

 

New Local Rule for Lost Ball or Ball Out of Bounds

When a provisional ball has not been played, significant issues with pace of play can result for a player needing to take stroke-and-distance relief for a ball that is out of bounds or cannot be found.The purpose of this Local Rule is to allow a Committee to provide an extra relief option that allows a player to play on without returning to the location of the previous stroke.
 

 

Player Behaviour
Reasonable judgment shown when estimating and measuring
rules judgement
Decision 34-3/10, a new decision introduced in April 2017, will be incorporated into the Rules as Rule 1.3b(2) so that when the player estimates or measures a spot, point, line, area or other location, his or her reasonable judgment is accepted: If the player did all that could be reasonably expected under the circumstances to make a prompt and accurate estimation or measurement. This means that the player's reasonable judgment is upheld even if later shown to be wrong by other information (such as video technology).
Elimination of need to announce intent to lift ball

In all three situations under the Rules (that is, Rule 4.2c, Rule 7.3 and Rule 16.4): A player will be allowed to mark and lift the ball and proceed under the Rule without needing first to announce this intention to another person or to give that person a chance to observe the process. But the player will still get a one-stroke penalty if he or she marked and lifted the ball without good reason to do so under that Rule.