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Opinion & Analysis

10 Things to Know About the 2019 Rules of Golf

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1. When do the new Rules take effect?

January 1st, 2019.

2. Why do we need new Rules?

Well, for quite a few reasons:

  1. The R&A and USGA want to simplify the Rules.
  2. They want to make them more modern.
  3. They want the Rules to be easier to understand.
  4. They want to remove some of the penalties.

3. Will there be fewer Rules, then?

Yes. According to the draft (see “8” below) there will only be 24 Rules in the 2019 Rules of Golf (there are 34 now). Please be aware, though, that the 2019 Rules will also be quite complicated and have a lot of text!

4. Do the Rules change a lot?

Yes!

5. Can I use my old Rules book(s) in 2019?

No. You have to get a new one.

6. I only need one Rules book, right? 

Well, that depends on how much interest you have in the Rules of Golf. I would definitely recommend that you get the rules book itself. Furthermore, I would recommend that you buy an easy-to-use Rules book (e.g. one with drawings, examples etc.). There are a few good ones of these (see also about the “players edition” below in No. 7).

7. Which Rules books are published by The R&A/USGA?

They will publish these rules books:

  1. The Rules book itself.
  2. A “Players Edition.” This will be a book with focus on the most common rules and with drawings, examples, etc.
  3. A “Handbook.” The present “Decisions Book” (with interpretations of the rules of golf) will no longer exist as of January 2019, but instead a handbook (with guidelines) will be published.

There will also be an app… maybe an illustrated book, etc.

8. What is the status on the 2019 Rules?

The R&A and USGA published a draft in March 2017. This draft has been in hearing, and they are right now working on finalizing the Rules. The new Rules book is expected to be published in March 2018. The Handbook and the “Players Edition” will be published later in 2018.

9. What are the primary changes?

As stated above, we only have a draft and not the final version for now. But according to this draft, some of the major changes will be:

  1. There will be a different dropping procedure, where you don’t have to hold the ball at arm lengths and at shoulder height, but simply can drop the ball holding it a few inches above the ground.
  2. When measuring e.g. relief, “one club length” will be changed to “20 inches” and “two club lengths” will be changed to “80 inches.”
  3. When deeming your ball unplayable in a bunker, you will be allowed with a two-stroke-penalty to drop a ball on the “straight line” outside the bunker.
  4. Searching time is reduced from five to three minutes.
  5. A new kind of stroke-play (“Maximum Score”) will be introduced.
  6. A lot of the penalties under the current rules will be removed.

These are just a few. In some future blogs, I will write more in detail about the many changes.

10. Where can I read more about the changes?

See this link: https://www.rules.golf or this link http://www.usga.org/rules-hub/rules-modernization.html.

By the way, since this is my first GolfWRX Article allow me to introduce myself. My name is Brian Oswald, and I’m the founder of golfrules.com (The Oswald Academy), which has only one purpose: To teach in the Rules of Golf in a (hopefully!) fun and entertaining way. I publish Rules books and Rules videos, answer questions and hold seminars arounds the world. I also have a Rules newsletter, among other things. 

If you have any questions and/or comments feel free to contact me on bno@golfrules.com.

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I am founder of "The Oswald Academy", which has only one purpose: To teach in the Rules of Golf. My hope is to make the Rules of Golf interesting and easy to understand. I am publishing Rules Books, conducting seminars, letterboxes, writing blogs, publishing "The Oswald Rules School" (videos) and much more. I live in New York, but I was born in Denmark. I am a former lawyer, and have two kids - and one wife.

17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Jim Iken

    Mar 3, 2018 at 8:04 pm

    The new rules also haven’t fixed th BS rule penalty of two strokes when card is turned in but unknown penalty is later added by the committee.
    We can look forward to more stupid incidents like those that wereso controversial last couple years. USGA is still amateur hour.

  2. sid

    Mar 2, 2018 at 6:53 pm

    Rules of Golf + Complex swing instructions = A game too complicated to play

  3. DaveT

    Mar 2, 2018 at 2:50 pm

    IMHO, the biggest problem with the current rules appears to be ignored by the new ones; they don’t address it at all. That is stroke and distance for lost ball or out of bounds, with the concomitant need to hit a second ball (often requiring a walk back to the tee). Every league in my area on public courses treats lost like unplayable and OB like a lateral hazard. The new rules should have done that. Greatly speeds up the game.

    • sid

      Mar 2, 2018 at 6:55 pm

      Also every player should putt out instead of alternating putts. That would really speed up the game because all the gossiping on the greens would be reduced.

  4. Tom54

    Mar 2, 2018 at 2:24 pm

    I too am confused about using club length vs 20 or 80 inches. That seems dumb to me. Also since when is it 2 shot penalty for relief from bunker. Thought it was just one. Very misinformed article I thought

    • DaveT

      Mar 2, 2018 at 2:42 pm

      Tom54, under the present rules (not the new ones) if you take relief (unplayable) within a bunker, the penalty is indeed one stroke and you must drop within the bunker. Check it out; the only way to get relief from the bunker itself is to go back and replay the shot (with a stroke penalty).

      The new rules allow you a drop outside the bunker, but at the cost of an additional penalty stroke.

  5. mark

    Mar 2, 2018 at 11:47 am

    A rule that would benefit many players is the lost ball, or ball hit out-of-bounds. You can still re-hit from the spot with a 1 stroke penalty, or give the player a 2 stroke penalty with distance, at a spot near the out-of-bounds area, or wear the ball entered the location where it was lost. This would save time looking, going back to re-hit, and would also save the player a golf ball/s ($4-5 Pro V1) if they hit the same poor shot 2-3 more times.

    • mark

      Mar 2, 2018 at 1:53 pm

      Where not wear. I need to spellcheck better.

  6. ewfnick

    Mar 2, 2018 at 6:03 am

    A waste of an article. flesh it out a little

  7. nyguy

    Mar 1, 2018 at 4:40 pm

    this article leaves more questions than answers… maximum score?

  8. John

    Mar 1, 2018 at 3:57 pm

    Seriously? Because the whole world uses inches…..

    • James T

      Mar 2, 2018 at 11:30 am

      … so i can stop carrying that 60″ driver in my bag as a measuring device???

      • DrRob1963

        Mar 2, 2018 at 6:23 pm

        Yes! – you can get a 40″ one now!!!

  9. SV

    Mar 1, 2018 at 3:14 pm

    If one club length is “equal” to 20 inches, how are two club lengths equal to 80″? And how are you to measure this, will we need to carry a tape measure?

    • sid

      Mar 2, 2018 at 7:00 pm

      20 inches = 50.8 centimeters
      80 inches = 203.2 centimeters
      Does this mean everybody must carry a tape measure as part of their WITB paraphernalia?!!

  10. Brian

    Mar 1, 2018 at 1:47 pm

    Wow…so informative.

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