The Evolution of Golf – The New Rules of 2019

Part 1

Chapter 1

New Rules

Golf is evolving, and as players we need to evolve with it. This blog series will focus on some of the ongoing revolutions in golf, including technology, instruction, rule changes and more. It’s said that you can’t fix a problem if you don’t acknowledge it exists, and golf as a whole took awhile to admit that the game was in decline.  With cost, time and perception the pervading issues, a major shift needed to occur in order to keep the industry afloat. We’re currently in the midst of that shift, and leaders have worked hard to refashion the game into something everyone gets a chance to experience and enjoy. No matter your golf knowledge or skill level, this blog will help you stay ahead of the curve as the game evolves. Let’s get started.

Click Here for a Comprehensive List and Explanations

We can agree most casual golfers don’t always adhere to the rule book, even if they want to. The Rules of Golf and Decisions On the Rules of Golf are tomes that contain all sorts of crazy golf scenarios. While of course important and necessary, no one is going to sit down and read these things cover-to-cover. Most golfers figure out the rules simply by playing and learning as they go, or asking their pros, which means most people don’t really play by the rules (which is totally fine in my book as long as you’re not in competition or gambling).

Regardless, we need some sort of standards for competition, and the old rules were no doubt outdated (say that three times fast). After a ton of research and listening to golfers worldwide, the USGA and R&A decided to mend the rules to modernize the game and speed up play. Above you can see 20 of the most important changes. Overall, I think they hit the nail on the head. Some really stupid rules like not being able to repair spike marks on the green or having to hit off of rocks in the bunker have been eliminated, and some should help speed up play, like being able to putt with the flag in the hole.

I’m not going to go over every single new rule, because that would be drudgery for both of us, but I will point out a few of my favorites.

Ball Search Reduced from 5 to 3 Minutes

Some say the most excruciating part of golf is the shank. I’d argue it’s waiting for the fella romping around in the jungle he has no prayer of getting out of to find his Pinnacle from 1994. We all know it sucks to lose golf balls, but c’mon. 3 minutes is perfect.

Ball Moved During Search, or Accidentally on Putting Green – Replace With No Penalty

These are kind of the genesis to making the game more lenient. Think DJ at Oakmont.

Local Rule – Stroke and Distance on O.B.s and Lost Balls

Local rules can be established at courses where under penalty of two strokes you can drop rather than re-hit from the original spot on O.B.s and lost balls. This will explain it better than I can:

This should hopefully eliminate the dreaded “drive back to the tee while the foursome behind you waits and shank another one O.B. in front of them.” FYI, you won’t be seeing this one on Tour or in elite Amateur competitions.

Penalty Areas Rather than Water Hazards

“Water Hazards” no longer exist, meaning any part of the course may now be deemed a Penalty Area. At Hart Ranch, for example, we weren’t able to make the left side of 11 or 15, the back of 16 or the left of 17 Water Hazards, as those areas aren’t a sea, lake, pond, river or ditch. Not saying we will automatically make those Penalty Areas, but we now have the ability to do so by the rules.

Ability to Ground Club in Penalty Area

We’re already in trouble, we should be able to do whatever necessary to get out of there.

Overall, these changes are going to be a good thing for golf. We will touch on some more rules stuff later in the series. Thanks for reading and we’ll catch you next week!