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The USGA/R&A propose major changes to the Rules of Golf



The USGA and R&A have proposed a number of changes to the Rules of Golf to take effect on Jan. 1, 2019, and they will have a major impact on how golfers play the game of golf.

The governing bodies are teaming up to create one set of worldwide rules that are easier to understand, and over the next six months (until Aug. 31), they will be accepting feedback/comments from golfers. To comment on the proposed rule changes, visit or call 908-326-1850.

Below, we’ve highlighted some of the most significant proposed rule changes — the most notable omission being stroke-and-distance. Every major rule change can be found on the USGA website.

Ball moved during search

There would be no penalty for causing a ball to move during search, and the ball would be replaced to its original spot.

Moving a ball on the putting green

There would be no penalty for a player accidentally moving a ball on the putting surface, although this rule was authorized by the Committee to be enforced as a local rule starting on Jan. 1, 2017.

Standard for deciding why a ball moved

A player would have to be “virtually certain,” or 95 percent sure, that he/she caused the ball to move. Otherwise, there is no penalty.

Replacing ball when original spot is not known

When a ball is accidentally moved, the player would place the ball in its original spot or its estimated original spot, rather than dropping it.

Ball in motion accidentally deflected

A ball that’s deflected by a player, their equipment, etc., would be played from where it comes to rest with no penalty. There would be a penalty, however, if a player positions his/her own equipment to be used as a backboard or otherwise intended point of deflection.

New procedure for dropping a ball

Screen Shot 2017-03-01 at 10.13.05 AM

There would be no limitations to how high from the ground the ball must be dropped, as long as it moves through the air from some height above the ground.

Time for search before a ball is lost

The time to search for a lost ball would be reduced from 5 minutes to 3 minutes.

Substitution of a ball always allowed when taking relief

When taking relief of any kind, a player would be allowed the option to use a new ball or to continue using the original ball.

Repairing damage on the putting surface

The new rule would allow a golfer to repair any damage on the putting surface, including spike marks, except for aeration holes and natural deformities in the surface.

Touching the line of play on a putting green

There would be no longer a penalty for touching the line of play by a player or caddie, but there will still be a penalty for improving the line of play.

Ball played from the putting green hits unattended flagstick in hole

Through the green, the player would have the option to remove the flagstick or have it attended; there would be no penalty for hitting an unattended flagstick on the green.

Expanded use of red-marked penalty areas

The term “hazard” would be eliminated, and all penalty areas would be marked with a red line and would be treated like lateral hazards.

Touching or moving loose impediments or touching the ground in a penalty area

There would be no penalty for touching the ground or removing loose impediments in a penalty area.

Moving or touching loose impediments or touching sand in a bunker

A player may remove loose impediments in the sand and touch the sand with his/her club, although the player cannot deliberately touch the sand to test its condition. Practice swings would still be prohibited.

Use of clubs damaged during round

The player would be allowed to use a damaged club throughout the round regardless of how it was damaged.

Adding clubs to replace a club damaged during round

A player will not be allowed to replace a golf club that they caused to be damaged.

Use of distance-measuring devices

The new rule would allow the use of distance-measuring devices, with an option for a Committee to implement a local rule prohibiting them.

Caddie lifting ball on the putting green

A caddie would be able to lift and clean a player’s ball at any time without authorization, as long as the caddie is the one to replace the ball.

Encouraging prompt pace of play

Among other things, a player would have only 40 seconds to hit the ball from when the player can hit without interference or distraction.

“Maximum score” form of stroke play

A maximum score can be set, whether in relation to par or just a total score, where a player who does not finish the hole would not be disqualified but rather given the maximum score.


Reasonable judgment in estimating and measuring

As long as a player has done all that is reasonably expected through the rules, player judgement would be upheld even if later deemed to be wrong by an outside source such as video technology.

What do you think about the proposed rule changes?

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  1. Robert John O

    Jul 24, 2017 at 8:12 pm

    I find the complete overhaul and rehashing of the rules of golf most unpalatable. The Rules 1-34 was the best in existence since time memorial. Why change for the sake of change. Admittedly, certain areas can be done for the better. What became a catalyst was cameras evidence which should not have been accepted in the first instance. The eye isn’t as discerning as cameras and one shouldn’t penalise the player basing on camera evidence. Period. This has opened up a Pandora’s box so to speak.

    Following the latest major overhaul and make-over and discarding Rules 25-34 leaves a bad taste in the mouth of referees.

  2. George

    Mar 3, 2017 at 3:26 pm

    Wow! Now all the snowflake millenials who consider themselves too good to learn the rules are happy. Grow the game? Grow maybe, but it’s not the same game anymore.

    • SlapHappy

      Mar 5, 2017 at 11:13 am

      Millenial Snowflakes don’t like to go outside, and they do think it is a GAME – a Video Game, they would prefer to be playing this game on simulators inside lmao

  3. John Nicholas

    Mar 3, 2017 at 3:22 pm

    Surely it is time to allow a player to take relief from someone else’s divot on a fairway!!!!!!!

  4. Mat

    Mar 3, 2017 at 2:29 am

    I think the maximum score rule could be a huge pace-of-play improvement! Double-bogey pickup FTW!

  5. MiloTheMarauder

    Mar 2, 2017 at 6:39 pm

    Considering i don’t follow rules, not even my own. This doesn’t affect me.

  6. Andrew

    Mar 2, 2017 at 4:35 pm

    Some of these make sense, but some clearly don’t.

    Drop ball from any height – There should be a minimum height, say 6 inches, otherwise you’re going to get players dropping the ball from a quarter inch so effectively placing it. Either have a minimum height or allow placing the ball to stop abuse of the rule.

    20 & 80 inch drop zones – Ask most players to estimate 80 inches & you’ll get 10 feet, how are they going to measure this without carrying additional equipment. Anyway most players clubs are similar lengths anyway so I don’t see the relevance of this change.

    Reduce search time to 3 minutes – This will actually slow down play as there will be more walk backs to the original location to replay the shot. Leave it at 5 minutes, but allow a 2 shot penalty drop under the same rules as for an unplayable ball.

    Putting on the green with the flagstick in – Definitely not, many flagsticks kill the ball so players will just rap it at the stick on short puts!

    Being allowed to touch and move natural objects – Only if they directly interfere with the path of the club.

    Being allowed to touch the ground in a penalty area – Not at address, but ok on the backswing as sometimes it’s impossible not to. This doesn’t apply to bunkers where as far as I can tell the rules wil remain the same as they are.


    It’s great that there are plans to modernise the rules, but care needs to be taken to ensure that the any rule changes are easily enforceable and not open to abuse. Far too many players nowadays appear to have a blatant disregard for the rules.


  7. Tom

    Mar 2, 2017 at 2:25 pm

    t forget to participate in the online survey provided link above

  8. Howard A

    Mar 2, 2017 at 12:09 am

    About 100 years overdue.

  9. James

    Mar 1, 2017 at 10:07 pm

    Most if not all of these seem pretty logical, easy to apply and should make it quicker- I can see these working well. I would like to see something to address the impact of landing on a sprinkler head around a green. I’ve seen plenty of shots that are either great, or at worst marginally off target, that have shot off the side of a sprinkler head, sometimes ending v unfairly, inc out of bounds, into the woods, into the water etc. I won a hole in a tight match last weekend because my friend shot off into the trees from what looked like a really good approach shot. I would love to see the option to drop next door to the sprinkler head. It wouldn’t be hard to police, it would be hard to cheat on, and it would remove unfair penalties.

  10. Dave R

    Mar 1, 2017 at 8:48 pm

    All rules of golf are there to help the player not penalize them. Tee it up hit it until your in the hole, what’s the problem . Bunkers and lakes have a purpose they penalize you that’s golf. If individuals did not drag their feet ,and put back divots that issue would not exist . It does not take anytime to replace a divot fix your ball mark or rake a bunker mabey just try to leave the golf coarse in a little better condition than you found it. It’s called respect for a great game.

    • Mat

      Mar 3, 2017 at 2:26 am

      Whatever fantasy world you live in, stay there.

  11. Doc Dougherty

    Mar 1, 2017 at 8:23 pm

    Here is my email to USGA, per their request for comments(
    USGA Team,
    “The USGA promotes and conserves the true spirit of the game of golf as embodied in its ancient and honorable traditions. It acts in the best interests of the game for the continued enjoyment of those who love and play it.”

    Congratulations on recognizing golf rules complexity and offering changes. Thanks for encouraging feedback.

    It appears to me, a 62 year old, that the game emphasizes tradition at the expense of enjoyment. Price of the round, 6 hour rounds and a rules book that would make the Internal Revenue Service jealous are barriers to our great game.

    1. Do you have any idea what large percentage of the general golfing public makes up their own rules? If you interviewed 100 Wednesday night league players, you would have a handle on the rules that they use and need. Yes, their USGA rules scores would likely be approx 2 to 5 or more strokes higher per nine holes. But, they are not out to please the rules gods. They are trying to have fun.

    2. Though rules “bifurcation” is not recognized by the USGA, it exists, de facto. Encourage local clubs to set up their own local rules. Casual lies, any lost ball played = lateral hazard, etc. Local clubs could have their local rule for casual rounds and USGA or modified USGA rules for their club championships.

    Geewillikers, that’s why so many local charity tournaments encourage mulligans, a string and other oddities to maximize the fun.

    The game’s rules on 1 sheet of paper would grow the game. Many 1 page rules of golf exist(example).

    Best wishes and thanks for your hard work.

  12. Bob Pegram

    Mar 1, 2017 at 7:27 pm

    Can you imagine what the thinking must be for the woman who lost the U.S. Open playoff because of ONE GRAIN of sand on her club?!

    • OF

      Mar 1, 2017 at 8:29 pm

      Yeah, must have been a touch pill to swallow for her (Anna Nordqvist). Similar situation with DJ at the 2010 PGA Championship.

      • S Hitter

        Mar 2, 2017 at 12:01 am

        You really don’t understand the rules, huh? Those two you mentioned have nothing to do with any of those listed in this discussion above.

        • OF

          Mar 2, 2017 at 9:22 am

          I disagree. Anna was penalised for making contact with the sand (grounding her club) in the bunker prior to making her shot. DJ thought he was in a waste area but it was actually considered a bunker. Therefore he was also penalised for making contact with the ground.

          “A player may remove loose impediments in the sand and touch the sand with his/her club, although the player cannot deliberately touch the sand to test its condition. Practice swings would still be prohibited.”

          Definitely applies.

          • SlapHappy

            Mar 2, 2017 at 11:15 am

            No, they don’t.
            In Ana’s case, she touched it DURING her stroke BEHIND the ball which improved the lie.
            In DJ’s case, it was a local rule to which he forgot to check and pay attention.

  13. JCGA

    Mar 1, 2017 at 6:25 pm

    Most people who play don’t even know or abide by the current rules… There are some good changes and other some are so so. One that I would like to see is the fairway divot, you should have relief. You can fix pitch marks on the green why not the fairway…

    • Steve Barker

      Mar 2, 2017 at 2:22 am

      Some golfers are already very poor when it comes to replacing divots. If they didn’t have to play out of them there would be no
      Motivation to put divots back properly.

      • DrRob1963

        Mar 2, 2017 at 5:53 am

        Have a look at the new Player’s Rules of Golf Draft: “Rule #1: Play the course as you find it and play your ball as it lies.” This is the central tenet of the golf rules – so there will never be free relief from divots.

    • Boyo

      Mar 2, 2017 at 12:04 pm

      Most people are morons.

  14. Bert

    Mar 1, 2017 at 5:51 pm

    OK, great prospective changes and yes feedback from golfers and the golf communities is a must – however why wait until 2019 to be published? The first reaction will be that’s when the Rules and Decisions are published. Well why is that a rule? Why can’t that be changed? Who determines the timing? Oh it’s their scheduled update imposed by themselves. Wake up, if it’s OK to establish a Local Rule until 2019 for a ball accidentally being moved on the green, then if any of these proposals warrant change, then they too should be allowed either a Local Rule covering the change, or just simply publish The Rules of Golf in Jan 1, 2018. The date isn’t set in stone, an unchangeable schedule. The golf community is questioning the logic of many Rules and certainly will question, if these are valid updates, why wait?

  15. Shortgame85

    Mar 1, 2017 at 5:23 pm

    The current rules seem to me as if they had been written by an old law school professor, bitter from a lifetime of being overlooked for a promotion to a tenured position. Oh yes, and just to add to his anger, he had a rancid, unholy case shingles and a swollen, red boil in the crease of his behind.

    The new proposals are a breath of fresh air and are welcomed and applauded by this golfer. And, it’s about time!

    • Doc Dougherty

      Mar 2, 2017 at 9:30 pm

      This is funny, thanks. I’m certain that buggy whips once had several standards for manufacturing and use at one time.

  16. Frank

    Mar 1, 2017 at 5:13 pm

    On the first tee you must reveal your gender identity to the group

  17. Rod

    Mar 1, 2017 at 4:48 pm

    went back it says the change to stroke and distance change needed was omitted.

  18. Rod

    Mar 1, 2017 at 4:44 pm

    Just went to usga site there was no mention in the proposed changes about doing away withe stoke and distance penalties as the article mentioned.

  19. carl spackler

    Mar 1, 2017 at 3:38 pm

    Lost ball/OB and hazard rules shouldnt change.

  20. Chris B

    Mar 1, 2017 at 3:03 pm

    Wow, totally shocked by this but in a good way. Releif for an embedded ball through the green, finally! The pros have had it for years. Loose impediments in a bunker, a set destance for a drop rather than 2 club lengths. If they can enforce the 40 second rule and stop people using the line on the ball for aiming their putts (I wish this was one of the proposed rule changes)…. Some very sensible stuff suggested.

  21. birdie

    Mar 1, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    Tapping down spike marks….seems reasonable. But we know Tour pros going to be tapping everything on their 30ft line. going to end up slowing play up.

  22. Double Mocha Man

    Mar 1, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    The main reason I play golf with my attorney friend is so he can interpret the rules for me… so much “legalese” in the rule book. I am happy to hear they’re going to re-write the rules in “user friendly” terms.

    Also, love all the other changes. Can’t come soon enough. Looking to try to qualify for the U.S. Open in May but still won’t be allowed to use a rangefinder.

  23. Joey

    Mar 1, 2017 at 1:53 pm

    I really like a few of these rules. To bad it will be harder to pass a rules test….

  24. John Grossi

    Mar 1, 2017 at 12:57 pm

    I thought April fool’s day was April 1st, not March 1st. Wow. Looks like I am in the minority. I don’t mind some changes, but an overhaul of the rules book, in my opinion, would add more confusion about the rules of golf.

    • Tony

      Mar 1, 2017 at 1:09 pm

      Probably a democrat who can’t handle radical change. These guys are pros and they can handle it.

      • Joshua Zumdahl

        Mar 1, 2017 at 1:34 pm

        These are rules that would be applied to the game across the board and worldwide, not just for tour pros.

        This is an article about golf, no one care about anyone’s politics. Take that nonsense elsewhere.

      • Boyo

        Mar 2, 2017 at 12:07 pm

        Probably a DB who can’t help but insert politics into every conversation. Go drown in the swamp.

    • Bert

      Mar 1, 2017 at 5:53 pm

      Now let’s see is that 20″ or 80″?

  25. RW

    Mar 1, 2017 at 12:55 pm

    Very nice changes.

    It seems to me they still need to revamp the Lost Ball rules. Reducing the time to search doesn’t do a lot of good without addressing the stroke-and-distance penalty. Shorter search time means more lost balls, which means more provisional shots will have to be taken (time consuming both to hit & to retrieve) and if provisionals aren’t hit, more time spent returning & rehitting from previous spot. These are among the biggest time wasters in the game.

    I’m sure we all realize that it’s generally not practical on a crowded weekend course to return 270 yards to the teebox to rehit when another group is waiting if one has an unexpected lost ball. Most casual players, even those that play mostly strictly by the rules, will take a drop “somewhere” w/ a penalty and continue the hole. That “somewhere” should be specified under the rules.

    True, it isn’t easy to come up with a perfectly fair solution. By definition in the case of dropping for a lost ball, there’s a lot of ambiguity & player judgement involved and hence those who are more objective & fair are at a disadvantage.

    My suggestion would be to do away with all the definitions and simply say that on ANY shot a player may, w/ a penalty of 1-stroke, take a drop ANYWHERE along the known-or-estimated path of the previous shot, no closer to the hole than the actual-or-estimated finishing position of the ball. This would apply to hazards, out-of-bounds, lost balls, unplayable lies or any other ball the player doesn’t wish to play from where it lies.

    This isn’t perfect. Definitely a big change and would significantly lower scores especially for high-handicappers. Scores from before-and-after the rule wouldn’t be perfectly comparable. It does take away the power of some of the biggest risk/reward designs such as out-of-bounds near a high-value target. You could simply go for it, and if you miss, still drop in a good location with only 1-shot penalty. It favors long-and-erratic over short-and-accurate. There may have to be more detailed specifications on or around the green, though the “no closer to the hole” takes care of most of that. But overall, I think this is a decent & fair solution which really speeds & simplifies the game.

    • KillerPenguin

      Mar 1, 2017 at 1:37 pm

      Amen! I can’t say that I’m a true stickler for the rules (the USGA would never have me), but I do try to follow them, including pulling the pin on the greens even when I’m by myself), but in the nearly 30 years I’ve played golf, not once have I or a playing partner ever walked back to the tee box after we discovered that we unexpectedly lost a ball. I know it’s rule, but it has always felt wrong and rude, especially when you have a group behind you.

    • S Hitter

      Mar 2, 2017 at 12:04 am

      Nothing has changed. These are simply being discussed. Most of them listed here will not change, that’s almost guaranteed. But they’re looking into the interpretations and some wording will be changed to clarify certain situations

  26. Adam

    Mar 1, 2017 at 12:48 pm

    Wow. Lots of opportunities for rules-bending here. How much gardening on the greens or in hazards? There’s so much cheating in junior golf right now. This is going to make it much worse.

    • Mark S

      Mar 1, 2017 at 1:57 pm

      I believe that is a personal ‘ethics’ problem, not a rules of golf problem. Their parents should have done a better job instilling good values. If they are going to cheat, they will no matter what the rules state.

      • Boyo

        Mar 2, 2017 at 12:10 pm

        It all started with cheating in scrambles. Oh, we came in at 15 under! Yeah, right, we were 17. Take em all out back and break their legs.

  27. Ron

    Mar 1, 2017 at 12:38 pm

    This is a huge step in the right direction. Glad to see the USGA started listening to the people actually playing the sport

  28. SlapHappy

    Mar 1, 2017 at 12:35 pm

    Wow. Shank!
    They cannot be serious? I hope these don’t change.
    Hazard rules must be kept. You should never be allowed to touch anything with a club in a hazard, especially if the object is on the ground. I would understand during a swing you might come into contact with a living tree limb or tall grasses, but loose impediments should never be allowed to be touched in a Hazard. It’s a Hazard for a reason.
    Damaged club?! No way would this be allowed. It is already allowed to be replaced, and that’s enough. You just shouldn’t be allowed to replace the one you broke intentionally.
    Spike Marks and say that they might be deformities? That’s hilarious.
    No more shoulder-high drop? That’s ridiculous.

    • Tom

      Mar 1, 2017 at 4:06 pm

      I’m startin’ to get some insight into your psyche

      • S Hitter

        Mar 2, 2017 at 3:21 am

        He’s keeping it real, is that psyche

        • Tom

          Mar 2, 2017 at 10:39 am

          ya wouldn’t happen to be in the legal profession would ya?

          • S Hitter

            Mar 3, 2017 at 2:02 am

            Takes one to know one I reckons! We keep the world bleeding, as you know

    • Scott

      Mar 2, 2017 at 9:45 am

      Wow slap happy, a shank? I guess you had just enough time to comment before you had take your mashie in to be rewound and pick up another dozen of featheries.

    • Boyo

      Mar 2, 2017 at 12:12 pm

      Spike marks should be able to be repaired. Just because some fat slob can’t pick up their feet don’t mean I have to putt over their trod.

  29. mitch

    Mar 1, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    damng! how much cheating is gonnna go on when this new rules take effect!

    • Yessir

      Mar 1, 2017 at 6:52 pm

      none. Because it’s in the rules now, ya dope.

  30. Philip

    Mar 1, 2017 at 12:15 pm

    About time – seems common sense for the rest of us isn’t so obvious to the USGA/R&A – now if they can start eliminating and simplifying the rule book (or publish a short set of rules) then it will make a difference. There are so many changes here that I can see average golfers arguing or what is and what isn’t a rule. It is one thing to change a rule – quite another to get it actually in play on the course by most.

  31. GIMP

    Mar 1, 2017 at 12:14 pm

    I agree with the rules changes. They will go a long way in simplifying the game and decreasing pace of play. I do believe that as a rules official the drop rules is a tough one to monitor and can give rise to too much unnecessary controversy. What is wrong with staying with the current dropping rule and liberalizing the clean and place rule. Finally, I fully endorse the idea of being able to us GUR to remove a ball from a divot. This is necessary because most courses lack the grooming of the courses the pros play on and give the players on lesser maintained courses a fairer golf experience plus speed up play.

  32. Powder skier

    Mar 1, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    One other thing that was not addressed is the lost ball and OB. Should be able to drop where it crossed the line…stroke and distance too time consuming

  33. Quine Duhem

    Mar 1, 2017 at 11:52 am

    Are the R&A and USGA allowing rangefinders with slope detection, too? The use of rangefinders will surely speed up play, but if the slope detection function is disallowed we will still get the same old problem of tour players resorting to their books to get a true yardage. The important point is to decrease the amount of time wasted in preparing to play a shot – every tour pro wants the fullest amount of data and they will get it any way they can.

    • Tom

      Mar 1, 2017 at 12:09 pm

      I’m not entirely sure that it would speed up the play. Watch these guys, after they get the yardage they talk, shuffle about, scratch their head, look in a book, talk some more, look up, grab a club, take two practice swings, look up again, look at each other, fart, talk about it, go back and get another club, take two practice swings, step away from the ball, look up, talk…..

  34. Chopper

    Mar 1, 2017 at 11:51 am

    I hope they do not implement the no penalty for hitting the stick from the green. Can you imagine all of the flag in/flag out that will be going on in a foursome? I for one would leave it in for every shot while I know a lot of people will disagree with me. But I am just going off of data.

    • Scott

      Mar 1, 2017 at 12:16 pm

      I absolutely agree that there might be a lot of “I want it in” and “I want it out” which could be a disaster for time, as well as a lot of eye rolling, because yes, I do disagree with you in that I want the flag out.

      • KillerPenguin

        Mar 1, 2017 at 1:40 pm

        This will definitely be an interesting one to see play out. I play by myself a lot and usually pull the pin, so I appreciate that this might save me a bit of time on the greens, but you’re definitely right. It could quickly get out of hand.

    • Mike

      Mar 1, 2017 at 3:36 pm

      You can’t possibly be serious. Nobody is going to do that.

      • Bert

        Mar 1, 2017 at 6:04 pm

        Not sure; one golfer that frequents my group desires the Flag-stick attended when their ball is within 8-10 feet of the hole. After 3-4 minutes of aligning the line on their ball with the hole, they want the Flag-stick attended. Crazy, poor etiquette, and not one I wish in my group. But other than causing me misery, it’s not against the Rules.

        • Steve

          Mar 2, 2017 at 12:33 am

          Somebody should say no and tell him to stop being an idiot. The only reason for the flagstick to be attended is if you’re too far away to see the hole. Otherwise, you’re wasting everybody’s time.

      • Bob Pegram

        Mar 1, 2017 at 7:20 pm

        Sorry, meant to comment, not report. I could see wanting the pin in on a steep downhill putt of any length on a fast green. The pin could stop the ball. Also would allow hitting the ball harder so it doesn’t break much and the pin would stop it.

      • Boyo

        Mar 2, 2017 at 12:13 pm

        Goalie? No goalie.

  35. Dat

    Mar 1, 2017 at 11:48 am

    Many of these are great and many people already play by these rules as casual players. Some need specific tweaks, but its like 90% there. Good!

  36. Ross

    Mar 1, 2017 at 11:48 am

    Someone tell Dechambeau that the USGA is trying to make golf easier not harder

  37. Shortside

    Mar 1, 2017 at 11:45 am

    Virtually certain or at least 95% certain they’re hitting a home run here. In all seriousness overdue is being kind.

  38. BC

    Mar 1, 2017 at 11:29 am

    There is no good reason why these new rules could not be approved within 90 days, and then put into effect 30 to 90 days afterwards.

    • DrRob1963

      Mar 2, 2017 at 5:57 am

      Absolutely – Let’s go! New rules? = July 1st 2017!!!

  39. Mark S

    Mar 1, 2017 at 11:29 am

    Don’t see anything about fairway divots being GUR. That needs to be changed. Not fair if the golfer ahead of me digs a trench and my ball falls in it. I’m not playing the same course as he was!!!

    • Scott

      Mar 1, 2017 at 12:22 pm

      I agree, but there would be too much discretion in what counts as a divot. Obviously a fresh divot is easy to see, but what about one that is filled in with sand, one that has been attempted to be repaired, or one that is almost healed?

    • Jim

      Mar 2, 2017 at 12:07 am


  40. Rick

    Mar 1, 2017 at 11:29 am

    Would love to see them add, a free drop from a divot in the fairway.

    • DrRob1963

      Mar 2, 2017 at 6:00 am

      Have a look at the new Player’s Rules of Golf Draft: “Rule #1: Play the course as you find it and play your ball as it lies.” This is the central tenet of the golf rules – so there will never be free relief from divots.

  41. Cyber

    Mar 1, 2017 at 11:28 am

    Finally you can slightly ground your club in a bunker. And move a big dead limb or rock or whatever is restricting your swing in a hazard area. And it does sound like they are doing away with OB. I’ve had a few rounds just utterly ruined by OB penalties, including day two of a tournament where I hit two OB on the third hole and for all intents and purposes my day was done.

    • new stuff!!

      Mar 1, 2017 at 11:39 am

      Nope – still can’t ground your club in a bunker. This article doesn’t give you the details. Read below.

      Player touches sand in a bunker with his or her hand or a club when the ball is in the bunker
      Current rule: Any touching of sand with hand or club results in loss of hole/2-stroke penalty (with exceptions).
      New rule: No penalty except when a player touches sand (1) with his or her hand or club to test the conditions of the bunker or (2) with the club in the area right behind or in front of the ball, in making a practice swing or in making the backswing for the stroke.

    • Scott

      Mar 1, 2017 at 12:19 pm

      They are not doing away with OB, although they should get rid of the stoke and distance, which most groups do not play by anyway.

  42. Mike

    Mar 1, 2017 at 11:16 am

    Hallelujah for the “Maximum Score” rule change. Set the max to 6 over par and you will really speed things up for novice golfers.

    • TR1PTIK

      Mar 1, 2017 at 11:55 am

      Just use snowman scoring. Once you reach double whatever par is, pick it up.

    • Steve

      Mar 1, 2017 at 12:44 pm

      Unless somebody is there to enforce it, I don’t see it speeding anything up. The heavy majority of players don’t follow the actual rules anyways…

  43. PPJN

    Mar 1, 2017 at 11:14 am

    Why does the USGA wait until 2019 to implement changes? Couldn’t they be updated within a year or even, this year?

  44. Mark S

    Mar 1, 2017 at 10:58 am

    Reading the changes on the USGA site, I like that they have taken the ‘tv viewer’ calling in out of play.

  45. Travis

    Mar 1, 2017 at 10:46 am

    Out of all of these rules, I pray to God they allow rangefinders in competitive play. That alone would speed up play on the PGA Tour…

    I agree with an above question about OB. Does that make it similar to just hitting it in the water? Also, if it’s played as a lateral hazard, then technically could you just play your ball out of OB then?

  46. Leon

    Mar 1, 2017 at 10:37 am

    All these new changes are great. Finally , we have a nice move from the governing bodies.

  47. Dr Troy

    Mar 1, 2017 at 10:34 am

    MAJOR changes. Refreshing too. Game changers. 2019 can’t get here fast enough.

  48. Tom

    Mar 1, 2017 at 10:31 am

    This is welcome news and an improvement to the game, well done USGA.

  49. Frozengolfer

    Mar 1, 2017 at 10:21 am

    Wow that’s a lot of changes, I can’t imagine they will all be ratified. There are a number that just makes sense and frankly it’s about time they addressed them ie measuring devices, moving a ball during a search, accidentally brushing something during a backswing in a hazard, changing all hazards to red.
    One question, does that mean out of bounds is no linger stroke and distance?

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Monday’s Photos from the 2018 Honda Classic



GolfWRX is live this week from the 2018 Honda Classic at PGA National’s Champion course (par 70: 7,110 yards) in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

The field this week is stacked at the top, and it includes defending-champion Rickie Fowler, 2017 FedEx Champion Justin Thomas, four-time major champion Rory McIlroy, and reigning Masters champion Sergio Garcia, who’s making his first PGA Tour start of 2018. Also in the field is Tiger Woods, who committed to play in the event just last week. Woods is coming off a disappointing missed cut at the 2018 Genesis Open.

Last year, Fowler won by four shots over Morgan Hoffmann and Gary Woodland, despite playing his final round in 1-over par.

Check out our photos from the 2018 Honda Classic below!

Monday’s Photos

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Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos in our forums.

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Tour News

Tour Rundown: Bubba is back (from near retirement)



The California cruise on the PGA Tour came to an end at Riviera, as it always does. Tiger Woods played poorly over the George Thomas classic, as he always does. Oh, and Bubba Watson showed why he is not in the ranks of ballers Dustin Johnson and Gary Woodland. Big wins were earned from Australia to Florida, by 22 year olds and 41 year youngs. Our tour rundown runs gathers results from five unique tours, and breaks each triumph down for you. Have a glance at this week’s Tour Rundown.

Watson returns to form with third Genesis Open win

There are too many ledes to unearth for this one: Horses for courses or Mercurial Watson, or how about My wife’s the hoops star, I’m the golfer? Whatever was in that Tracy McGrady rejection on Friday night was the medicine Bubba Watson needed to return to the winner’s circle. Along the way, Watson schooled the 20-somethings (and even the other Lefty) on how to close the deal in Hogan’s Alley.

How Watson came back from near-retirement

While the siren song of the candy store, car dealership and baseball team might have been strong, Bubba Watson wanted to be a champion golfer again. After nine, up-and-down holes (3 birdies and 2 bogeys) on Sunday, Watson was looking up at Patrick Cantlay, Kevin Na and even Phil Mickelson. Not to worry, as the Florida portsider had played the inward half under par all week. Watson closed with 3 birdies and 0 bogeys over his final 9 holes, sealing a 2-stroke win over Na and Tony Finau.

See the clubs Bubba used to win the 2018 Genesis Open

How a quartet missed out

Let’s summarize: Na played the back side in 1-under par and needed Watson’s 3-under for a playoff; Tony Finau was 2-under on the closing half, but needed double that for extra holes; Phil Mickelson bogeyed 15 and 16 when he knew that birdies were needed; Patrick Cantlay played 1 over in his final 9, when 2-under would have meant playoff. All the also-rans and almost-weres didn’t do what Watson did: close the deal.

Jin Young Ko secures Australian Open on LPGA Tour

It’s a stretch to call Jin Young Ko an LPGA player, as her first 9 wins came on the LPGA of Korea tour. In October and now in February, Ko bested world-class fields to win co-sanctioned events, and is now a two-time LPGA champion. At this rate, it might be difficult for her to remain tethered to the Korean tour.

How Ko won the week

A 7-under 65 on Thursday was the fuel Ko needed to take a lead that she would not relinquish. Although Katherine Kirk matched that number on Sunday, no one was able to wrest the advantage from the 22-year old Ko. Two rounds of 69 and one of 71 brought her to 14-under on the week. On day four, Ko started quickly with two opening birdies. A pair of bogeys on the outward half kept her within sight of the field, but birdies at 9, 13 and 17 were the recipe for re-establishing her three-shot margin of victory.

How she kept the field at bay

The challenging Kooyoonga golf club was not very free with low rounds this week. Ko’s compatriot Hyejin Choi, posted a flawless 67 on Sunday to move up one spot, into solo second at 11-under. In third and fourth were a pair of Australians, Hannah Green at 10-under and the aforementioned Katherine Kirk, at 9-under. Marina Alex was the low USA golfer at 7-under, tied for fifth spot with Minjee Lee.

Oman Open on European Tour

Joost Luiten began the fourth day at Oman in a three-way tie for first spot, but asserted himself early on Sunday with birdies on holes 2 through 4. It was enough to separate from the field, and he was able to hold off Chris Wood to earn his 8th European Tour title, by two strokes.

How Luiten claimed victory

After the fiery beginning, Luiten cooled off in the later stages of the opening nine holes. Bogeys at 7 and 8 brought him back to the field, but he wasn’t done for the afternoon. Luiten birdied 12 and 13, then added the clincher on a tricky birdie putt on the 16th hole. That final birdie gave him a 2-shot separation on Chris Wood, and he held on for pars at the final two holes for a 68 on the day and 16-under for the tournament.

How Wood and others came up shy

Matthew Southgate and Julien Guerrier began Sunday in a tie with Luiten, but the day turned sour early for Southgate. The Englishman had four bogeys in a five-hole stretch. Two more miscues on the inward half dropped him into a three-way tie for ninth at 9-under par. Guerrier held the wheel a bit steadier: two bogeys at the turn were offset by three birdies coming in, and the young Frenchman was able to coax a solo third-place finish out of the week. It was Chris Wood who gave the greatest chase to Luiten. Wood had four birdies on the day, and was in a tie at the top at 15-under, when he yanked a drive at 17 and found a hazard. Although he was able to play his ball, the ensuing bogey was the mistake he could not afford. A par at the last placed him at 14-under, one shot clear of Guerrier and two behind the champion.

Durant welcomes second PGA Tour Champions title at Chubb Classic

Technically, it’s his third, but the first was a two-man win with Billy Andrade. Durant probably caught wind that Billy Mayfair and Tim Petrovic were going super-low (8-under on Sunday) and that David Toms was at their heels (7-under on the day.) Each of those three earned a top-four finish, but Durant took matters into his own hands over the closing seven holes. He left Naples as the 2018 Chubb champion.

When Joe Durant woke up

Durant was 1-over through 7 holes on Sunday, headed in the wrong direction. Birdies on 8 and 9 reminded him that he still had a chance, but the eagle on 13 kicked his game into a higher gear. Birdies at 14, 17 and 18 were enough to offset a bogey at 15, and Durant cruised home with a four-stroke victory over Mayfair, Toms, Petrovic, Lee Janzen and Steve Stricker.

How that quintet fell away

After eight birdies through 14 holes on day 3, Mayfair had zero over his closing four. Toms did the opposite-He played the outward half in 2-under, but came home in 5-under to reach the podium. Petrovic had 4 birdies on each half, but also simply ran out of holes. Janzen threw an early scare into the eventual champion, but two bogeys and not enough chirps were his undoing. Stricker’s finish was the most painful. Within site of Durant and needing birdie at the last for 18-under, Stricker was forced to go for the flag, and instead got wet. His double-bogey finish dropped him from solo second to the five-way tie.

Daniel Fox surprises at Australian PGA championship

Daniel Fox had one previous victory on the Australasian circuit, but he made the most of opportunity’s knock on Sunday. The 41-year old played error-free golf over his final 14 holes, counting 6 birdies for a one-stroke victory over Matthew Millar and Steven Jeffress.

How Fox found the winner’s platform

Fox might say he was the last man standing, and none would argue. The runners-up had chances at birdie at the final hole, but neither one could convert. Fox counted three rounds of 65 and one of 67 on his card.  On the week, he had three bogeys and one double, against 21 birdies and one eagle. In an event where the margin ‘twixt victory and not-victory was razor-thin, Daniel Fox shaved the final whisker.

How Millar and Jeffress came up short

The easy answer would be: they didn’t birdie the 72nd hole. Jeffress had the low round (63) of the week, but his 67-67-66 lost ground on the other three days! As for Millar, one might point to his last two, outward nines. On both weekend days, he made nine consecutive pars to open his round. Against a par of 33, it wasn’t bad, but he gained no ground on the leader. Millar’s stat line for the week read: one eagle, 21 birdies, six bogeys. Yup, nearly identical to Fox, but nearly is the operative word.

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Tour News

Tiger Woods fires second-round 76, will miss Genesis Open cut



Tiger Woods’ trip to Los Angeles is over sooner than he’d hoped. Woods fired a 5-over 76 during the second round of the Genesis Open to miss the presumed cut at Riviera by four strokes (the second round won’t be completed until Saturday morning due to darkness).

Hopes were high Woods would continue to build on a T-23 finish at the Farmers Insurance Open. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, as the driving woes that plagued him at Torrey Pines followed him to the Riv, despite changing shafts in his TaylorMade M3.


Wayward off the tee, Woods made eight bogeys Friday, unable to grind out a decent score as he did with his opening-round 1-over 72. He was unable to rely on his putter the way did in this first round, three-putting back-to-back holes (No. 11 and 12). A stretch of three straight bogeys sunk Woods’ hopes of hanging around for the weekend.


We won’t have to wait long to see the Big Cat back in action, however, as Woods committed to next week’s Honda Classic at PGA National in Florida. Woods most recently put a peg in the ground at the course in 2014, where he ultimately withdrew due to back spasms.

The 79-time PGA Tour winner hasn’t teed it in back-to-back weeks since 2015, so while fans may not be encouraged by his play, at least he continues to be free from any issues with his surgically repaired back.

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19th Hole