Are These 2017 Proposed Golf Rule Changes Par for the Course?

The rules of golf are intended to promote fairness, knowing “what to do” in a given situation, and fast play.  Every year, the rules are reviewed to ensure that they have not become too complex and that they are intuitive. It just makes sense. We see the result of complex rules while watching a professional player on TV often ask for a rules official for fear of misinterpreting a rule or missing one of the exceptions.   

In 2016, Golf made a few rule changes. The biggest one was the elimination of anchoring a putter to one’s body (AKA a “Belly” putter or “Slim Jim” putter which one anchors a putter to their shoulder).  A number of rules changes are being proposed in 2017 for implementation in 2018.  The two major golfing bodies are the United States Golf Association (USGA) and the Royal and Ancient Golf Association (R&A).  These 2 major golf ruling bodies have worked together to standardize the rules worldwide.     

Fall in Love with the 2017 Proposed Golf Rule Changes

In the next 2 blog posts, let’s review the “whys” behind a few of the major rules change proposals that would positively affect many of us in our regular rounds. 

When a ball moves: Under the new rules proposal, a stroke will NOT be assessed if:

  • A player accidently moves his ball while searching for it. Makes sense---often one is searching for his ball in bushes or thick rough with his club.
  • The ball moves accidently on the putting green. We all remember the penalty incurred by Dustin Johnson when his ball moved in last year’s US OPEN.  Was it  because of the severe slope of green,  the wind after he marked his ball, or did he touch it accidentally? Too hard!!!  Keeping it simple is the guide for this proposal. 
  • All accidental ball deflections are not penalized including if the ball hits the player/opponent, equipment, or caddy. There are different rules on this today with many exceptions. It is best to be consistent and simple. Play the ball where it lies without a penalty.   

Where do I replace a ball?

  • Sometimes, one has to pick up the ball to identify it. The new rules propose that the ball should always be placed on the spot rather than dropped. In the past, when the ball might be dropped, it might roll within 2 club lengths. Just put the ball where it was, is a simple and intuitive rule.     
  • At times, your ball may come to rest on a drainage cover or on a cart path. In the past, you could use 2 club lengths and then drop the ball. The new rules propose that the player place the ball within 20 inches of the point of relief. It should not matter if I am 5 feet tall with shorter clubs or 7 feet tall with longer clubs to decide the point of relief. A standard of 20 inches is simple.

 The ball itself

  • The new rules will propose looking for a lost ball be reduced from 5 to 3 minutes. I am for anything to speed up the pace of play.
  • The new rules propose that when one is taking relief (with or without a penalty), one can replace his ball. We have all had the bad experience of taking relief from that same drain cover or cart path and having to finish the hole with a damaged ball. That was just making golf too hard!!!
  • The current rules are hard to understand in the heat of the moment of a round when you can or cannot declare a ball embedded (stuck in the ground) depending on where the ball lies. The new rules propose that anywhere “through the green” is acceptable to declare a ball embedded (“through the green” is defined anywhere on the hole you are playing that is not the tee box or a hazard).

Conditions

  • The new rules propose a player can make a repair to anything, anywhere on the green before one putts. We have all played late in the afternoon and have to deal with spike marks or damage due to a player hitting the green with their club in our putting line. Players should be afforded the same green conditions late in the day as earlier in the day. This also promotes better green care by all players. 

  

Over to you…..

What 2017 rule proposals are still too confusing?

What 2017 rule change proposals are you the most excited about?

Send me your comments and we will talk about some more 2017 rule proposal changes next week.

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