The year 2019 has been recorded as the year of the revision in the history of golf. The R&A and USGA along with the golf’s governing bodies took the initiative to amend the rules and regulations which have been followed for more than 60 years to play golf. The process of rearranging the rules was started in 2012 and after a long period of 6 years, new rules were proposed with the help of several reviews and suggestions from the global golf community. This initiative was introduced in order to make golf rules more proficient to apply and understand. The numbers of rules which were initially 34 are now reduced to 24; most of them are still the same, yet simplified more precisely.
Below are the main changes in rules which are expected to speed up the game:
The players had to suffer the penalty stroke if the ball was moved from its original place while the search. But now, there is no penalty on this kind of unintentional happenings.
Advantage: The ball can easily be searched with the help of feet or club and must be put back without penalty.
There is no need to inform or give a chance to the other player in advance if the player wants to pick up the ball to identify it. Also, there is no need for another player’s investigation and agreement for the procedure.
Suggestion: It is still recommended to inform the other players to elude any controversies and disagreements.
Hitting a Double
If the ball was hit twice when the club got stuck, it was subjected as a penalty stroke. As a result of changes, there is no such penalty.
Advantage: Double hitting the ball is now counted as one stroke.
No Alignment of Club
The golfers are not allowed to lay the putter down on the green to align the stance.
Suggestion: This same rule implies to any other item or equipment that may help the player to line up.
No Caddie’s Assistance
The caddie is not allowed to give directions from behind that could help the player line up the stance.
Advantage: This is a little catch up of the beginners and average players but can affect the experts.
Hitting Player or Belongings
If the player hits himself or any of his instruments unintentionally, there will be no penalty to this.
Suggestion: The players are not permitted to use any physical parts of his body or his belongings to stop the ball.
Examining the sand in the Bunker
The players are now allowed to touch the sand in the bunker indirectly before the stroke, for example: leaning on club. Nonetheless, players are yet not allowed to examine the sand’s condition, refine the line of play, touch the sand while practice swing or backswing.
The player has to take a free drop if he would have to take his stance on the wrong green to prevent the damage to the green.
No More New Spot
If the ball is displaced by itself or due to the wind, there is no need to play it from a new spot. In fact, the player can put the ball back to its marked place.
Shaping the damages
The players are now allowed to fix everything without penalty including the spike mark.
Suggestion: The players are still not so free to polish the whole line of putt because natural flaws are still the fragments of the game.
No more flagstick fatuity
There is no penalty to hit a flagstick in the hole when putting on the green. The flagstick is not required to be removed while putting.
Advantage: The ball lodged along the flagstick is classified as holed.
The players are now required to drop the ball from the knee height instead of the shoulder height earlier
The players are now allowed to touch the natural items in the bunker in order to remove them anywhere without penalty. But the ball should not be disturbed.
Embedded ball in green
The player can now take a free drop from all embedded balls in ‘regular area’.
Red and yellow penalty areas are new water hazards
Earlier dropping the ball opposite side of the entry point was possible but not anymore. The player is allowed to ground the club inside or outside of water while playing out of the penalty areas.
Previously, only water containing areas were defined as water hazards. Now hazards are called penalty areas which need not contain water. It is now convenient to mark the other parts of the course as penalty areas to allow sideways drops and thus fastens the game.
The players are now permitted to play a provisional ball after looking up for the first ball. Also, the time for searching the ball has been reduced to a maximum of 3 minutes which was previously 5 minutes.