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USGA publishes changes to Rules of Golf for 2019

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The USGA and R&A have this week published golf’s new rule book, which will take effect on Jan. 1, 2019. The modernized Rules of Golf features over 30 changes in all, and it is said to be the most significant change to the rules in more than 60 years.

The changes to the rules will see the reduction of several penalties, looser putting green and bunker rules, and regulations that encourage improved pace of play.

According to Thomas Pagel, senior managing director, Governance for the USGA, the aim is to make the rules easier to comprehend and to improve the future of the game

“From the project’s inception, our one goal was to make the Rules easier to understand and apply for all golfers. It sets a new standard in the way we write and interpret the Rules and is central to our efforts to ensure a healthy future for golf.”

Among the significant changes that will come into effect in the new year

  • Penalty drops will now be made from knee height, rather than shoulder height
  • No penalty for an accidental double hit
  • No penalty for accidentally moving your ball or ball-marker on the putting green
  • No penalty for accidentally moving your ball during search.
  • Your ball is lost if not found in three minutes (rather than the current 5 minutes)

David Rickman, the executive director, Governance at The R&A, spoke today about his excitement to the modernized rules change that could see the sport become far more accessible

“We are delighted to be rolling out the modernized Rules of Golf today. This is the biggest set of changes to the Rules in a generation and a major step forward in our efforts to make the Rules, and the sport itself, more accessible and more in tune with the way the modern sport is played.” 

Both Dustin Johnson and Lexi Thompson suffered high profile penalties in the final round of major championships recently. Under the new rules change, neither incident that they sustained penalties for will be deemed a breach after the new rules go into effect.

The entire list of changes to the rules that will take effect Jan. 1, 2019, is available here.

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Gianni is a freelance writer. He holds a Bachelor of Arts as well as a Diploma in Sports Journalism. He can be contacted at gmagliocco@outlook.com. Follow him on Twitter @giancarlomag

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Shifty

    Sep 13, 2018 at 7:10 am

    “rules change that could see the sport become far more accessible” – how so?

  2. pr

    Sep 13, 2018 at 2:28 am

    I don’t like the fact that you can now touch the ground in a hazard area. That should never be allowed. Hazards are called that for a reason, they aren’t supposed to be perfectly manicured million dollar country club relief areas.

  3. Steven

    Sep 13, 2018 at 12:48 am

    Changes are coming! Not sure if this is allowed but we made a bag tag to help everyone with the rule changes. Would appreciate any support!
    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1641149418/quickstarter-rules-caddy-2019-simplify-the-rules-o?ref=user_menu

  4. Rick

    Sep 13, 2018 at 12:37 am

    Lexi put her ball down an inch from the ball marker… that was the problem. How’s that solved here?

  5. Wayne Johnson

    Sep 12, 2018 at 10:57 pm

    Great changes but removing a ball from a Divot in the fairway should have been included. Hitting a good drive in the fairway should not be penalized by having to play out of someone’s divot.

    • Sean

      Sep 12, 2018 at 11:21 pm

      Don’t fool yourself mate. These changes are not about improving the game. There about speeding up the game so more revenue can be generated.

      • C

        Sep 13, 2018 at 7:56 am

        How are any of the top four bulleted rules about speeding up play?

    • Mike

      Sep 13, 2018 at 11:45 am

      I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment, but I see big challenge in rulings. What is a divot? Certain depth/width? How old can the divot be? If it was taken 2 months ago, but there is still a trace amount of sand left from being filled, can I take relief? I don’t have a solution, but I think this is whats holding this back.

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McIlroy snaps back at McGinley criticism: “Next year, I’m looking out for me”

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Earlier this week, Rory McIlroy suggested that he would leave the European Tour in 2019 which produced criticism from Irish golfer and analyst Paul McGinley, who called the decision “extraordinary” and “hard to understand.”

McIlroy, who is currently in action at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, indicated before the event that he would only play in two “pure” European Tour events next year. When told about McGinley’s negative reaction to the news on Thursday, McIlroy hit back in unrepentant style. The 29-year-old defiantly expressed how 2019 will be the year he puts himself first in a bid to end a major drought dating back to 2014, while also suggesting that just like himself, McGinley has his own interests in mind.

“McGinley is on the European Tour board. He’s involved and he has to protect what he has, and I get it. Everyone has to do what’s best for them and for me next year I’m trying to do what’s best for me to help get back to the best player in the world and try to win majors again.”

Should McIlroy decide not to renew his European Tour membership for 2019, he would be unable to captain his continent in future Ryder Cup’s, due to a European Tour rule introduced last year. When asked about his thoughts on that particular issue, McIlroy appeared to show no concern, bluntly replying: “It’s 20 years away”.

McIlroy confirmed that he had met with European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley in South Africa last week to brief him on his plans for 2019. But while the move to quit the European Tour looks increasingly likely, McIlroy was not ready to drop any bombshells in Dubai, and even poked fun at the controversy, stating

“Geez, I’d cause all the stirs in the world if I go back to winning majors. Next year I am looking out for me. At the same time, I don’t have to make a decision on it. I didn’t say it was a definite. It is up in the air. We’ll see how it goes.”

McIlroy has until next May to decide whether or not to renew his European Tour membership for 2019.

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GolfWRX Morning 9: McIlroy: Looking out for No. 1 | Ogilvy: Aus. Open is “second class” | Hole-in-one: yardage unknown

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By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com)

November 16, 2018

Good Friday morning, golf fans.
1. Kuch Down Under + player doesn’t know hole distance, makes hole-in-one anyway, wins $17K watch
Matt Kuchar went, “from Hola to Aloha,” at the Mayakoba Classic, to continuing his strong form some 9,000 miles away at the Australian Open.
  • Aus. Associated Press…”South Korea’s Byeong Hun An has sensationally reclaimed the Australian Open lead with a hole-in-one late in his second round.”
  • “Starting Friday with the lead at The Lakes, An watched as American Matt Kuchar and Australian amateur David Micheluzzi entered the clubhouse at seven under par after playing in the morning wave.”
  • “But An shot back to the top of the leaderboard with an ace at the 197m par-3 15th that rocketed the former US Amateur champion to eight under.”
  • “Hit it good, nice fading back to the hole and went in. This is my third one but first with a prize,” the smiling Korean said after earning himself a $17,000 Swiss watch. “It was a soft seven iron. I didn’t even know the distance. My caddie just said to hit seven iron and take five (metres) off.”
2. …of course, also on the subject of the Australian Open…
Geoff Ogilvy, one of the most eloquent and outspoken major winners from Australia had some strong words about the state of his national open.
  • Golfweek’s Kevin Casey on Ogilvy’s remarks’…”Unfortunately, the Australian Open appears to be stuck in a bit of a rut. Tiger Woods has participated in the event and past winners include Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Tom Watson, Adam Scott, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth.”
  • “But in this week’s edition, Scott, Jason Day and Marc Leishman are famous countrymen who have decided not to be a part of the field.”
  • “It signals the continuing issues the event has with getting the strong fields it used to. And Aussies can’t help but take notice.”
  • “I hate to say this, but the Australian Open feels like a second-rate tournament now,” Geoff Ogilvy said, per Golfmagic.com. “I’m sure it is run in the same way it was 30 years ago, but tournaments elsewhere have progressed so much, and the differences show.” [NOTE: Golfmagic.com pulled from Ogilvy’s exclusive column for Golf Australia]
3. Meanwhile, in Dubai…
The official game story from EuropeanTour.com…”Jordan Smith and Adrian Otaegui shared the lead after day one of the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai as Francesco Molinari tightened his grip on the European Tour’s season-long crown.”
  • “Smith and Otaegui carded rounds of 66 at Jumeirah Golf Estates to sit at six under, one shot clear of defending champion Jon Rahm and Major Championship winner Danny Willett….Italian Molinari knows a tie for fifth with one other or better will secure him the Race to Dubai title and he was just a shot further back after a 68 on the Earth Course.”
  • Defending champion Tommy Fleetwood needs a victory at the eighth and final Rolex Series event of the season to have any chance of denying Molinari, and the Englishman was three shots off the lead after a 69.

Full piece.

4. And at Sea Island…
Unofficially, a Titleist man now, Chucky Three Sticks got off to a stellar start at Sea Island.
PGATour.com’s Sean Martin…”Charles Howell III knew he needed to take advantage of Thursday’s tee time on Sea Island’s Plantation Course.”
  • “It was cold and windy during the first round of The RSM Classic. The inland Plantation Course, with its tree-lined fairways, protected players from the worst of the weather, though. Plantation played nearly a stroke under par Thursday, while players averaged more than one stroke over par on the Sea Island Resort’s Seaside Course.”
  • “Howell lowered Plantation’s scoring average even more with an 8-under 64 that gave him a two-shot lead after The RSM Classic’s first-round lead…He hit every fairway and every green for the first time in his career. It was the seventh time he hit all 18 greens in a single round.”
  • “I think sometimes playing these difficult conditions it forces you to stay a bit more present, it forces you to stay kind of in the moment a bit,” he said. “It’s hard to get too far ahead of yourself because of the difficulty of every shot coming.”
5. Closing stretch of the Race
Ron Sirak…”Nothing like the prospect of winning $1 million to mess up your mind a wee bit. In the final Race to the CME Globe before the CME Group Tour Championship changes its format, the five players who can win the bonus by winning here find themselves looking up at Amy Olson with Nasa Hataoka having the best view.”
  • “Olson blistered Tiburón Golf Club for a nine-under-par 63 in Thursday’s first round of the LPGA’s season-ending event while Hataoka, one of the five with one hand on the bonus, was a stroke back along with Brittany Lincicome after a birdie barrage on a Tiburón course softened by early morning rain.”
  • “The 63 by Olson, who teed off in a drizzle in the second group, was one off the tournament course record by Lydia Ko in 2016. Hataoka nearly matched her, making eight birdies, including the final two holes, while Lincicome would have shared the lead if not for a bogey on the final hole. Lexi Thompson is at 65 with Carlota Ciganda at 66 and Lindy Duncan and Pannarat Thanapolboonyaras at 67.”
6. McIlroy: “I’m doing Me-Ilroy”
Well, that’s not exactly what the Ulsterman said, but essentially…
  • And while he’ll attract criticism, rightly or wrongly, it’s worth noting the extreme degree of selfishness required to be the best (perhaps something McIlroy has been questioned for not having in the past). If one wants to be the best golfer in the world, prep for and peak at majors, playing the vast majority of one’s golf on the PGA Tour is the only route. With all due respect to Justin Thomas, it is the route nearly ever recent No. 1 has taken. And Rory should act differently because he is…from Northern Ireland? What sense does that make?
  • Via Alistair Tait at Golfweek...”Everyone has to look out for themselves and next year I’m looking out for me,” McIlroy said. “At the same time, I don’t have to make a decision on it.”
  • “I didn’t say that it was a definite. It’s up in the air. I don’t have to make a decision till May. We’ll see how it goes. McGinley is on the European Tour board, he’s involved and he has to protect what he has and I get it.
  • “Everyone has to do what’s best for them and, for me next year, I’m trying to do what’s best for me to help get back to the best player in the world and try to win majors again.”
7. Rounding out the lineup
The steady drip of details/stuff they’ve just figured out continues with the announcement of the, well, announcers.
  • Golfworld’s Stephen Hennessey...”Tiger’s buddy Charles Barkley, along with Samuel L. Jackson, will work as special guests of the pre-match coverage, and they’ll also contribute during select moments of the actual competition, according to event organizers. Long-time TNT Sports anchor Ernie Johnson will provide the play-by-play, and Peter Jacobson and Darren Clarke will offer their analysis as color commentators.”
  • “Current PGA Tour pro Pat Perez, who like Mickelson and Woods grew up in California and competed against Tiger as a junior golfer, will also join the pre-match coverage with Bleacher Report’s Adam Lefkoe. LPGA star Natalie Gulbis and FOX Sports reporter Shane Bacon will provide reports from inside the ropes.”

Full piece.

8. Inside Kuch’s switcharoo
I talked with a few of Bridgestone’s ball wonks about staffer Matt Kuchar’s ball switch ahead of his Mayakoba win.
  • One of those changes: his golf ball. Now, given Kuch’s club head speed last year – 107.97 mph (183rd on Tour) – your wouldn’t have thought the happy warrior would  switch to a lower-spinning golf ball. However, that’s just what he did, making the move from Bridgestone’s Tour B XS to its Tour B X. And according to the company, he did so after a recent fitting session in which he was driving the X seven yards farther than the XS.
  • I had a chance to ask , and Adam Rehberg, the company’s Golf Ball Fitting Manager, about the switch.
  • So, what was the thinking/data that had Matt Kuchar playing the XS originally?…Elliot Mellow, Bridgestone’s Golf Ball Marketing Manager: “Matt had historically been in our higher spin spec – he appreciated the spin control into and around the green. For years, the B330-S and then the Tour B XS, allowed Matt to hit his windows and optimize trajectory. As he started to reevaluate his fit, there were really two things in play here that allowed the door to be opened for Matt to explore a more distance spec ball: Over the years, we have continued to soften the covers of all Tour balls. So in our distance spec, the Tour B X, you really don’t sacrifice spin for distance, it still is a great spin control ball with irons and wedges. The other thing to consider is some of the club set-ups for Matt have changed, which allowed us to reevaluate his fit.”
9. Debating the left-foot flare
For something a little different, here’s a piece from our Rod Lidenberg that we published late yesterday. Lidenberg debates the merits of the flared left foot at address (ala Ben Hogan’s suggestions). Needless to say, it’s awakening a strong response from the GolfWRX readership.
  • A taste of Ron’s argument...”The subject of this piece is not to debate Hogan’s hip action but the piece that accompanied it, the 15-degree flare of the left foot. I’m of the opinion that it is not only wrong. Because of its toxic nature, it is DEAD WRONG.  The reason has to do with the tailbone, which determines the motion of the hips in the swing. The more the left foot opens up at address, the more the tailbone angles backward. That encourages the hips to “spin out” in the downswing, which means they have turned before the player’s weight has been allowed to move forward to their left foot and left knee.”
  • “As a consequence of the hips spinning out, players move their weight backward (toward the right foot), encouraging a swing that works out-to-in across the body. You can see this swing played out on the first tee of any public golf course on a Saturday morning.”
  • “The problem with the 15-degree foot flare is that it promotes, if not guarantees, the following swing issues:…In the backswing, the flared left foot: 1: Discourages a full left- hip turn. 2: Encourages the improper motion of the left-knee outward rather than back. 3: Reduces the degree that the torso can turn because of the restrictions placed on the left hip.”
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Geoff Ogilvy disses “second-rate” Australian Open; Adam Scott’s grudge against Golf Australia?

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You may or may not know it, but there is more going on in the golfing world this week than just the DP World Tour Championship, Dunlop Phoenix, and RSM Classic. Australia’s oldest and most prestigious golf event is also underway, after failing to attract the star names of previous years. Jordan Spieth, Adam Scott, Marc Leishman, and Jason Day have all played in the championship in recent times, but none are in action in Sydney this week.

Former Australian Open champion and native Aussie Geoff Ogilvy is another man who won’t be competing at the event this year, and on Wednesday, the former U.S. Open winner ripped into the championship, describing it as “a second-rate tournament.” Ogilvy, writing for Golf Australia Magazine, stated that the tournaments current predicament was due to the lack of progression that the event has made compared to other competitions around the world.

“I hate to say this, but the Australian Open feels like a second-rate tournament now. I’m sure it is run in the same way it was 30 years ago, but tournaments elsewhere have progressed so much, and the differences show.”

Does Adam Scott feel slighted by Golf Australia?

While losing Ogilvy, who has just lost his PGA Tour card and now sits at 780th in the world rankings, may not overly concern the tournament organizers, the loss of Adam Scott for the second successive year at the event will come as a significant blow.

Scott had competed in the Australian Open 17 years on the trot before the former Masters champion opted out of playing the 2017 edition of the event. The decision for Scott to skip last year’s tournament is believed to be down to an unsatisfactory offer from Golf Australia, who had prioritized their investment in Day and Spieth, and his non-appearance this week indicates that he is unlikely to forget that insult.

However, according to Golf Australia CEO, Stephen Pitt, the former world number one’s absence once again at the Australian Open is not due to a strained relationship, although Pitt did express regret over last year’s dealings with Scott when speaking about the golfers no-show this week.

“Things could have been done differently last year but, from our perspective, we’re confident that there’s no strained relationship that we need to worry about.”

Despite the public show of confidence from Pitt, the fact that Scott is currently in Sydney for a charity event instead of teeing it up at the Australian Open this week, suggests that something may well be awry between the two.

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