Do These 2017 Proposed Golf Rules Changes Simplify Golf?

Last week, we discussed some of the 2017 Proposed Golf Rules Changes for 2018. I think the Unites States Golf Association and the R&A are making great strides to continue to promote fairness, making “what to do” in certain golfing situations more intuitive and fast play.

Still Excited About the 2017 Proposed Golf Rules Changes?

Let’s look at just a few more of the proposals and one proposal that both Jack Nicklaus and I agree the ruling bodies should consider: 

While on the Green:

Under the 2017 proposed golf rules changes, a stroke will NOT be assessed if:

  • The ball hits an unattended flagstick in the hole while the group is putting. This just makes sense. If one is playing in a twosome or by yourself, it delays the game to walk and take the flagstick out. This promotes improved pace of play.
  • The caddy can now mark the ball, clean it, and return it to the mark. In the past, only a player could do this. Again for TV viewers, this will improve the pace of play since the caddy can clean the ball while the player is determining the line of the putt. 

In the Sand Trap: 

Under the new golf rules proposals, a stroke will NOT be assessed if :

  • The player touches the sand while removing loose impediments in the bunker. Sand play for many players is hard. When your ball is sitting on a rock, loose pebbles or a foreign object-- the sand shot becomes prohibitive for the majority of golfers. It should be OK to remove impediments.
  • This one is a bit interesting. The new rules propose that the golfer has the option to declare a ball unplayable in a bunker. The player can remove the ball from the bunker consistent with the same line to the hole of the previous ball position, but take a 2-stroke penalty. Good incentive to continue to practice sand shots.

About the Equipment:

  • If a club is damaged in a round, the player can continue to use the club without penalty through the rest of the round. This is a proposal in the spirit of intuitive---who determines that the extent of the damage makes the club unplayable? It should not matter if the club was damaged because of a player’s anger or just bad luck---keep the club in play for the rest of the round.
  • Distance devices will now be legal in all USGA/R&A events. I like this rule. In a tournament or a regular round, the constant adding up of the distance to the front of the green and then to the pin causes delays. We have all seen on TV where a caddy added up an incorrect distance and a player used the wrong club. There should be no competitive advantage for knowing the right distance. Let’s keep golf simple.

 A Last Golf Rule Change Proposal:

  • One last proposed golf rule change was proposed for 2018 but has been recently adopted by both ruling bodies. This new rule basically states that if the golfer has done all that is reasonably expected in a certain golfing situation, the golfer’s judgement will always be accepted even if shown wrong later in the tournament. Most players are always seeking assistance from the others in their group before executing a drop, etc., and professionals often ask for rules officials before executing a complex rule. The ruling bodies are basically telling the world that assuming the golfer has done what is reasonably correct, the golfer’s decision is final. Good call by the USGA and the R&A.

 A Golf Rule Change I Wish Could Be Rethought: 

  • A couple of weeks ago in a round, I hit 4 drives in the middle of the fairway that ended up in severe divots. Believe it or not, I doubled or triple-bogeyed each of those holes. Jack Nicklaus was behind a proposal this year to offer a golfer a free drop if the ball came to rest in a fairway divot. Both ruling bodies have decided that it is too hard to decide whether a fairway divot is repaired or still in the “state of repair”. It just was not my day, but it is nice that Jack Nicklaus and I both disagree on one item with the USGA and the R&A!

 Over to You:

  • Are you looking forward to the 2017 proposed golf rule changes?
  • Do you think the proposed rule changes will make the rules more intuitive?
  • Are there any golf rule changes that you wish the ruling bodies would consider?

Send me your comments.  I'd love to know your thoughts.

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