New Rule Changes for 2019:
In case you haven’t heard, golf is in for some exciting times starting in January. In an effort to “modernize” and “speed up play,” the USGA and R&A have decided to update and continue their collaboration to issue a single set of rules that govern the game worldwide. There are some updated/improved rule changes that will take effect in January of 2019, so we wanted to go over a couple highlights for you:
- No Penalty for Putting with the Flagstick In!
Starting in January, there will no longer be a penalty for hitting the flagstick while your ball is hit from on the putting green. You may have heard Bryson Dechambeau talking about keeping the pin in for the Tournament of Champions event in Hawaii at the beginning of the year. Ever the tinkerer, he will be testing out this rule to find the advantages and disadvantages to it. If I were to ask one person to determine the effectiveness of this rule, it would be him. As of right now, the “ruling” is still out on this rule and we should have an answer soon as to whether this rule makes sense or not scientifically.
- No Penalty for a Double Hit!
If you are a golfer like me, you probably gave a big sigh of relief after reading that and might have some difficulty wiping a smirk off your face. The dreaded double hit is as scary as watching a horror movie by yourself in a creaky cabin in the woods on a full moon! After experiencing this shot myself, I’m not sure which is more embarrassing, the double hit or the penalty stroke after the fact. The USGA has apparently decided that shot is scary enough that it can take away the embarrassment! Thank you USGA…my golf game is embarrassing enough!
- A Fourth Relief Option for Unplayable Lies in a Bunker
We all know, or at least know when we pull out the rule book, the three current ways to get relief from an unplayable lie in a bunker with a ONE stroke penalty…1) Stroke and Distance – 2) Back on the Line Relief IN the Bunker – 3) Lateral Relief in the Bunker. Now there is a fourth relief option which allows us to drop the ball back on the line of relief OUT of the bunker for a TWO stroke penalty. This could be the most beneficial rule change to golfers who struggle to get out of the bunkers! When I first heard this rule change, my mind started to wander to the bunkers in the British Open and what could happen in the upcoming years. This rule will definitely be used more by those who struggle to get out of the bunkers, but I wonder at what point someone who is great out of bunkers takes advantage of this rule?
Please note there are several other rule changes that will take place at the beginning of this year and we encourage everyone to grab a copy of the Players Edition of the Rules of Golf. We have 300 copies in the Terravita Range House, so please stop on by at your convenience and pick one up!