Top 10 New Golf Rules You Must Know

By: | Mon 07 Jan 2019 | Comments


Golf’s new rules came into effect on the 1st of January, but for most of us the acid test came at the weekend when we bowled up to our clubs to play with our friends or take part in club competitions. The early signs are that there was some confusion, despite the huge amount of publicity given to the changes.

The world’s top players used them for the first time at the Tournament of Champions at Kapalua and there were mixed reviews, especially when it comes to whether or not the flagstick should be left in while putting. Others struggled to come to terms with dropping the ball from knee height.

The Rules of Golf are Changing and May Confuse

To save arguments, here are the 10 key rule changes with the official explanation from the R&A.



1. Penalty and free drops to be made from knee rather than shoulder height.

Official Rule: 14.3b - A ball must be dropped straight down from knee height. “Knee height” means the height of a player’s knee when in a standing position. But the player does not have to be in a standing position when the ball is dropped.

2. Only three minutes rather than five allowed to search for a lost ball.

Official Rule: 18.2a - A ball is lost if not found in three minutes after the player or his or her caddie begins to search for it.

3. A damaged club, even as a result of abuse in anger, can be repaired and used in remainder of round.

Official Rule: 4.1a - Player may have the club repaired by restoring it as nearly as possible to its condition before the damage happened during the round or while play was stopped, while still using the original grip, shaft and clubhead.

4. No penalty for hitting flagstick in the hole with a shot played on the green.

Official Rule: 13.2 - You may leave the flagstick in the hole or have it removed (which includes having someone attend the flagstick and remove it after your ball is played), but you must decide before making a stroke.

5. No penalty for accidentally moving your ball on putting green as long as it is replaced to the correct spot.

Official Rule: 9.4b, Exception 3 - There is no penalty when the player accidentally causes the ball to move on the putting green (see Rule 13.1d), no matter how that happens.

6. Spike marks can be repaired on the green.

Official Rule: 13.1c - You may repair damage on the putting green without penalty by taking reasonable actions to restore the putting green as nearly as possible to its original condition.

7. No penalty for an accidental double hit.

Official Rule: 10.1a - If the player’s club accidentally hits the ball more than once, there has been only one stroke and there is no penalty.

8. It is now possible to take a penalty drop out of a bunker.

Official Rule: 19.3 - For a total of two penalty strokes, the player may take back-on-the-line relief outside the bunker based on a reference line going straight back from the hole through the spot of the original ball.

9. Loose impediments may be removed in bunkers and the sand can be touched with a club prior to a stroke from the hazard but not in a practice swing, on the backswing or to test the surface.

Official Rule: 12.2a - Before playing a ball in a bunker, a player may remove loose impediments under Rule 15.1 and movable obstructions under Rule 15.2. This includes any reasonable touching or movement of the sand in the bunker that happens while doing so.

10. Water hazards are now known as "penalty areas" as can other areas of courses be if so deemed by the committee.

Official Rule: Any body of water on the course (whether or not marked by the Committee), including a sea, lake, pond, river, ditch, surface drainage ditch or other open watercourse (even if not containing water), and any other part of the course the Committee defines as a penalty area.


What have been your early impressions of the new Rules of Golf, and will you be putting with the pin in the hole? Let us know, as we would love to hear your thoughts!


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