By now I am sure that you are aware that the R&A / USGA Rules of Golf are changing from January 1st 2019. These changes represent the biggest single set of changes to how our game is played for many years.
Following a period of consultation conducted over 6 years the new rules of golf are designed to accomplish three primary goals:
- Ensure that the rules are more easily understood and applied
- Ensure that the rules are more consistent, simple and fair
- Reinforce the game’s longstanding principles and character (e.g. play the course as you find it and play the ball as it lies; players taking responsibility for their own penalties etc)
There are 3 immediate areas of change that members will experience and or see:
- New Rules to Play By
As of Jan 1st 2019 we will be playing by the new, revised Rules of Golf. Within the last three months we have done a lot to promote awareness of the changes e.g. the Rules Open Evening, and communicated some of the key changes click here. A copy of the presentation used at the open evening can be found by clicking here.
Copies of the 2019 Players edition of the Rules of Golf book (which is much simpler than previously) have also been available for collection from the pro shop. Please make sure you collect a copy to keep in your bag.
- Course Changes
The new rules offer course managers more flexibility to help playability of the golf course whilst upholding the principle of playing the course as you find it. In advance of the new rules, a review was carried out involving Leigh Powell, WGML, members of the committee and of the competitions sub-committee. As a result, a small number of changes are being implemented as follows:
- Out of Bounds – The boundary of the course to the left of hole 1, up to the dog leg on hole 2, is defined by the left edge (looking in the direction of play) of the path that runs alongside these holes.
- The flower bed to the left of the pond on hole 1, which was previously a no play zone with a free drop, will now be part of the hazard* (understanding that at times a player may well play their ball in there).
- The back of 3 will be Out of Bounds from a few feet inside the boundary fence and marked accordingly (meaning that the bush will be Out of Bounds).
- The back of hole 4 will be marked Out of Bounds in front of the ditch.
- All wooden bridges are now clarified as part of respective hazards*. A ball can be played from the bridge and a player can ground a club but there is no free relief. All other pathways are considered immovable obstructions from which a player can get free relief.
- The back of hole 16 will be marked as a red “penalty area” with drop zones.
Consideration was given to deploying Out of Bounds on the right side of hole 12. However, it has been decided to leave as is for now. Consideration was also given to marking the bush behind hole 11 a penalty area. However, it was decided that the area will be tidied up not least to reveal, and encourage the growth of previously concealed trees.
- Local Rules
In light of the above and in line with the new Rules of Golf our Local Rules have been updated (local rules). Amongst other updates to Local Rules, they now specify what you need to do when in a designated “penalty area”, including the use of drop zones and the specific new rules of golf that apply. Please take time to familiarise yourself with them.
Other Important Areas of Consideration
Under the new rules, committees are encouraged to adopt Local Rules on both their pace of play policy and their Code of Conduct. Under the new rule 1.2b, a committee is permitted to introduce a local rule that penalises inappropriate conduct using a model penalty structure.
Pace of play and Code of Conduct relate to, and potentially impact, the ethos and culture of our club. A Code of conduct could be far reaching in its scope. The fundamentals of the new recommended code of conduct are that a player plays the ball as they find it, plays by the Rules and in the spirit of the game, and takes responsibility for any breach of a rule by applying the appropriate penalties. These principles are not new. But Committees are being encouraged to go beyond these and specify expected behaviours and required etiquette.
As a result of this guidance we shall be looking at these areas in more detail and consulting the members on their impact. Therefore, there may well be further amendments to our Local Rules that reflect our position on pace of play and Code of Conduct. In the mean-time please respect the new 3 minute rule and continue to respect our current guidance on pace of play, and to play the game according to the fundamental principles outlined earlier.
If you have any questions about these changes, please contact the Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Enjoy your golf under the new rules in 2019!
*Under 2019 Rules of Golf the term for Water Hazard will be Penalty Area