Today, the world’s two governing bodies for the game of golf, the US Golf Association and the R&A (The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews), announced a number of proposed changes to the game that would take effect Jan. 1, 2019, in time for that year’s PGA Tour.
If adopted in full, these changes would reduce the game’s main rules and definitions from 34 to 24. It’s a move to simplify the game, according to David Rickman, Executive Director of Rules and Equipment Standards for the R&A. The proposed modifications are results of a five-year-long initiative.
Documentation from the R&A says they came up with the changes to make the rules “more easily understood and applied” as well as “more consistent, simple and fair.” They also seek to maintain “the game’s longstanding principles and character.”
Both governing bodies have opened up the rules to public reaction and commentary for a period of six months. Public comments will be closed on Aug. 31. Golfers may peruse the full changes and submit comments at www.usga.org/rules and www.randa.org.
- No penalty if the ball (or ball marker) accidentally moves on the putting green or in search of a ball.
- Golfers can leave the flagstick in the hole while putting.
- Golfers may repair spike marks or other damage on the green without penalty.
- Caddies will no longer be able to line up a player.
- Golfers stuck in a bunker may remove a ball from a bunker and place on nearby rough or fairway for a two-stroke penalty.
- Time searching for a lost ball would go from five minutes to three.
- Golfers have no more than 40 seconds to play their shot.