The R&A published its new rules at the start of 2019 and, on the whole, it seems like these changes will have a positive impact on the game of golf – speeding up play and allowing some relief from the game’s more draconian ways. Here we round up what we feel are the most important changes to the ancient game of golf.

    • For the first time, a new Player’s Edition of the Rules of Golf is being introduced to provide a shorter, more user-friendly version of the Rules for golfers at all levels of the sport.
      We like this one because it’s a great tool for beginners (and those of us who need a rules refresher!) and will help make the game more accessible.
    • Drop from knee height (NOT shoulder height)
      We like this one because shoulder height is a pretty serious distance from the ground and your ball could often end up bouncing quite a way’s away! Potentially this will speed up play. However pros like Rory have highlighted that it could have an advantage for more the diminutive among us.
    • Time to search – 3 minutes (NOT 5 minutes).This will definitely help to speed up the pace of play. And this goes hand in hand with…
    • Pace of Play – it is recommended that you take no longer than 40 seconds to make a stroke (and usually you should be able to play more quickly than that) and Ready Golf in stroke play is encouraged.
    • If you accidentally move your ball when searching for it, replace it without penalty
      This is just fair do’s! Why should you incur a penalty for accidentally moving your ball in search? It’s bad enough that you might have lost your ball, but heartbreak when you incur a penalty when you find it. Good call by the R&A.
    • No penalty for a double hit – it only counts as one stroke.
      Check out this video which Brandel Chamblee has put up showing a double hit- don’t worry, the rule incudes the word accidentally so this wouldn’t be allowed!

  • No penalty if your ball hits you or your equipment accidentally after a stroke.
    Ever hit a shot, didn’t turn out how you wanted, and to top it all it hit you or maybe your bag? If you can say yes to this question, you’ll know how good this rule feels! We think this one could be open to manipulation – but golf is a game of honour after all! This goes hand in hand with the next rule…
  • In bunkers you cannot touch the sand with your club in the area right in front of or right behind your ball, during your backswing or in taking practice swing.
  • No penalty if your ball strikes the flagstick when you have chosen to leave it in the hole.
    Really interesting new rule, we think. Not convinced it will always speed up play but less confusing for beginners coming into the game. It’s been well reported that Bryson de Chambeau, the PGA Tour’s mad scientist, is going to use this rule to his advantage where he can…
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The first time your buddy bounces a putt off the pin 🤣 #GolfRules2019

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  • Spike marks and other shoe damage on the putting green can be repaired.
    Very welcome! Especially on courses where greens are more susceptible to marks, or when you’re over an important 3-footer!


Plenty of folks like this new rule, even if they think it’s too cold outside to practice…

  • Ball accidentally moved on putting green – no penalty and replace.
  • Drop a ball out of a bunker – two penalty strokes
    Great for the beginner golfer. Or if you find yourself in a particularly nasty sand trap!
  • Free relief is allowed if your ball is embedded on the fairway or in the rough (but “embedded” means that part of your ball is below the level of the ground).
    A welcome change. Especially with some of the course conditions we have to play in here on the British Isles.
  • You cannot have your caddie or your partner standing behind you once you begin taking your stance.
    This one has been a bit controversial and there are arguments on both sides. It should make competition fairer and speed up play.

To read the full rules visit The R&A website.

Go Play!