The R&A and the USGA embarked on the process to modernise the Rules in 2012, which was initiated to ensure that the Rules were easier to understand and apply for all golfers as well as making the game more attractive and accessible for newcomers.
The R&A’s Rules came into effect on January 1, 2019. We take a look at 19 of the most important changes...
1. Search time has been reduced from FIVE minutes to THREE minutes.
2. Ball moved during search - replace with no penalty.
3. Embedded ball - free relief anywhere through the course.
4. Measuring a drop - Use your longest club (except the putter)
5. Take drops from knee height rather then shoulder height.
6. Ball unintentionally hits a player or equipment - no penalty.
7. Double hit - no penalty and now only counts for one stroke.
8. Touching sand in a bunker accidentally is now permitted.
9. Loose impediments can be removed anywhere, including hazards.
10. Dropping a ball out of a bunker - two penalty strokes.
11. Water hazards are now called 'penalty areas', and there is no penalty for touching the ground in a penalty area.
12. New local rule allows golfers to drop in the area of where a ball is lost or out of bounds under a two-stroke penalty.
13. Ball moves on green after being marked - replace without penalty.
14. Ball accidentally moves on the putting green - replace no penalty.
15. All damage to the green can now be repaired.
16. Positioning a club for alignment is not permitted.
17. Caddie assisting with alignment is not permitted.
18. Putting with flagstick in hole is now permitted.
19. Ball wedged against flagstick and side of hole is now deemed as holed.