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Mackenzie Hughes questions updates to Rules of Golf: “Most of them missed the mark”

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Earlier this year, the R&A and the USGA decided to modernize the rules of golf for 2019, in a move that was considered long overdue by most golf fans.

However, not everyone is happy with the changes, and on Thursday, PGA Tour professional Mackenzie Hughes took to social media to question some of the new rules.

Hughes when discussing the rules for 2019 on his Twitter page, stated how he felt that most of the rule changes had “missed the mark”, and his examples for the rule changes that he was most displeased over included the new procedure for dropping a ball, as well as the new damaged club rule.

The Canadian’s post provoked a discussion which allowed Hughes to elaborate on why he isn’t too enamored with one certain rule change.

While his countryman, Graeme DeLaet, used the platform to lambast the authorities, calling it “absurd” not to implement an updated anchoring ban, with many players still using their forearm to anchor the club.

Hughes and DeLaet aren’t the only PGA Tour professionals who have questioned the updated rules for 2019 either. At the PNC Father/Son Challenge, Jim Furyk although bullish that the R&A and USGA had made changes that will improve pace of play, cast his doubts on the new rule that will allow players to repair spike marks before putting.

“If I had to be skeptical of one rule, it would be tapping down spike marks. I think pace of play. I think moving the time you look for your ball (before it is declared lost) from 5 minutes to 3 minutes is going to insignificantly improve pace of play. But the tapping down of spike marks could tend to drag things out a bit.”

GolfWRXers, do you feel that the R&A and USGA missed the mark with some of their rule changes, or are these PGA Tour pros being a little too pedantic?

Let us know what you think!

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Gianni is the Assistant Editor at GolfWRX. He can be contacted at gianni@golfwrx.com. Follow him on Twitter @giannimosquito

36 Comments

36 Comments

  1. Kumat63

    Dec 26, 2018 at 5:42 pm

    Agree with Graham 100% on the anchoring thing. Either ban all anchoring, entirely (and require the club you putt with to be the shortest one in the bag–to avoid the Adam Scott/Langer blatant cheating) or, get rid of the ban itself. Personally I don’t care either way, but the current rule is ridiculous.

  2. C. Winn

    Dec 24, 2018 at 6:00 pm

    Really like the change (practice) that allows play (stroke) after first round (day) of 2 day competition. Well done.

  3. Nigel

    Dec 24, 2018 at 12:59 pm

    To answer Hughes’ question; what we accomplished by moving the drop from shoulder height to knee height is a penalty for not dropping the ball from high enough. They got rid of the ridiculousness of penalties for things that didn’t matter – like dropping the ball from below shoulder height which most people we guilty of.

  4. Peter

    Dec 24, 2018 at 11:41 am

    searching for a lost ball is not what hinders the pace of play on the pga tour. These guys are good, and it’s pretty rare that they can’t find their balls quickly with the help of marshalls and spotters. walking up to your ball and then taking 5 minutes to make a decision and swing the club however, is a big problem on tour, and thats something that needed to be addressed.

  5. Dan

    Dec 23, 2018 at 1:09 am

    Since when did it become so important to speed up pace of play? Pros get there a couple hours beforehand to putt, stretch, hit balls, some workout a bit, see a masseuse sometimes, do an interview or press conference questions afterwards. We should just add the time to the score and bastardize the whole thing. All these rules are to try to simplify a game to stuffy and complicated for the youth to get into. I don’t go play and brag to friends on how fast the round went. The round is my day. If you want to play fast get a golf video game on the x box and play in 30 min in your boxers. The round takes the time it takes 4 hours instead of 4 1/2, who gives a shit. I’m sure advertisers love a sped up game so we can watch Big Brother or any other of the useless crap on TV. Sports are the closest thing to unscripted drama, why speed it up, don’t slow it down but geez, what’s the hurry? Gotta look at my phone more it’s been 4 hours, I’m getting the shakes.
    Venty Venterson

  6. smz

    Dec 22, 2018 at 12:51 am

    Only 5% of all golfers worldwide play by the Rules… and the remaining 95% just hack and hope they can break 100 honestly…. while carrying a veritable WITB arsenal of weapons/toys.

  7. James

    Dec 21, 2018 at 9:27 pm

    Can’t wait to play behind a group doing the flag in, flag out dance. I’m assuming they’ve heard curse words before…

  8. James

    Dec 21, 2018 at 9:12 pm

    Who is McKenzie Hughes? I like any rule that shortens the time to look for a lost golf ball. Gives me more time and the right to yell at slow groups in front of me.

  9. shawn

    Dec 21, 2018 at 1:55 pm

    The USGA is just a shill for the OEMs… and they proved it when they fired Frank Thomas and replaced him with a TM VP to head up club design oversight.
    Frank was.. frank.. and honest about the attempts by OEMs to scam recreational golfers with annual club design changes and to juice up the equipment to the detriment of the game of golf. Tour players are only advertisements for the equipment industry.

    • A. Commoner

      Dec 22, 2018 at 10:42 am

      Really like your post. Frank Thomas may have been under appreciated or even unknown by some but he was (continues to be) a huge asset to the game. ‘More expertise in his little finger……..’

  10. darrell

    Dec 21, 2018 at 11:12 am

    They still haven’t addressed my main issue. When is a swing………a swing? At what point does it count as a stroke? Why is it up to the player to decide whether or not he was actually attempting to hit the ball?

    Allow players to place the ball instead of dropping. There are so many rules issues that come into play by dropping, players don’t know how to proceed.

    Bottom line…….don’t forget……the rules are made by a bunch of amateurs.

    • James

      Dec 21, 2018 at 9:20 pm

      If you’re over 70 you should be allowed to anchor!

      • Scheiss

        Dec 21, 2018 at 11:42 pm

        No. If you have to anchor you should have to be forced to quit golf in shame in front of everybody you know as you make that announcement in front of them

        • Jack Nash

          Dec 24, 2018 at 12:09 pm

          LOL!!! And your playing partners can split your clubs between them.

      • smz

        Dec 22, 2018 at 12:47 am

        If you’re over 70 and you need to anchor, you should quit and take up shuffleboard. Nothing worse than an old far† struggling to walk, swing, putt and constantly searching for his ball…. and buying new clubs annually in the desperate hope of not making a mess of his game.

    • James

      Dec 21, 2018 at 9:22 pm

      A swing is a swing when you intend to hit the ball. Own up to it.

  11. A. Commoner

    Dec 21, 2018 at 10:24 am

    Could this writer begin putting more substance into his articles? Sham credentials? About the topic, Hughes and DeLaet are right about these puffed ego birds missing opportunities to make timely decisions to strengthen both the game and the appeal of the game. (Yes, some extrapolation there.) This group of new rules or revisions is both comedic and tragic. As an aside, we can handle a slow poke in our group, even on the course. Slow play on the tours does not matter to us at all. Not our problem; let the pros take care of it if they want. It’s their business.

  12. kevin

    Dec 21, 2018 at 9:37 am

    imagine on average a player taking an additional 20 seconds to look the line of their putt over and tap down spike marks…and i think this tapping motion will become habit whether there is a spike mark or not, similar to the wipe of the putterface before addressing the putt. 20 seconds per putt per player. a group of 4 amateurs averaging 34 putts a round minus 4 gimmies, this adds 40 minutes to a round.

    whether the math is spot on or not….this rule will add to length of a round and offset any good other rules may have

    • josh

      Dec 21, 2018 at 10:12 am

      The average player is doing this already in recreational rounds. It wont change the length of your weekend round at all. Are you telling me that the people in your group on a sunday afternoon round aren’t tapping spike marks in their line?

    • smz

      Dec 22, 2018 at 1:01 am

      We have a club player who takes a minute or two to read and prepare for his putt. I got so annoyed I stomped all over his line of putt and the others applauded me… he froze. He is absent from club play now.

    • smz

      Dec 22, 2018 at 1:03 am

      We have a club player who takes a minute or two to read and prepare for his putt. I got so annoyed I stepped all over his line of putt and the others applauded me… he froze. He is absent from club play now.

  13. David

    Dec 21, 2018 at 9:22 am

    Dropping knee height decreases the chance will bounce or roll outside of the club length. “Placing” allows people to tee it up and will take longer. It’s a legit compromise and will make the action of “dropping” less formal and quicker.

    The spike marks should be able to be tapped down. They also should allowed relief from divots in the fairway. No reason yo should be penalized b/c of the person in front of you. There should also be a penalty for unraked bunkers. Sucks to penalize for bad etiquette, but that’s todays golfer.

    I 100% agree with Graham.. anchoring of any kind should be banned. Clubs should hang from the hands down.

    • kevin

      Dec 21, 2018 at 9:39 am

      the issue with a divot in a fairway is what defines a divot. there is a big difference between a 4 hour old divot, a one day old divot, a 3 day old divot….etc.

      at what point does every questionable lie in fairway need a ruling as to whether the spot is an old divot or not.

      • Dv

        Dec 21, 2018 at 9:57 am

        We should get relief from all divots regardless of being 1 or 3 days old. A fairway shot should not be penalized for hitting the fairway. Plus it give the fairway time to heal.

    • Willem

      Dec 21, 2018 at 9:47 am

      The R&A has put out a document to explain, amongst other things, why they did not implement rules regarding unraked bunkers and divots.
      This what it says:
      This from the R&A:
      Preserving the Fundamental Challenge of the Game

      Play the ball as it lies –

      In its simplest form, golf is about playing the ball from tee to green by hitting it with a golf club, and not otherwise touching the ball. A fundamental challenge of the sport is to deal with whatever position your ball comes to rest in – whether good or bad. While there are some necessary exceptions (such as obstructions and other abnormal course conditions), the essential nature of golf means these must remain exceptions rather than the norm. Therefore, the new Rules do not provide relief without penalty from situations that some golfers complain about, such as when their ball comes to rest in a divot hole on a fairway or in footprints in a poorly raked bunker. In addition to being contrary to the fundamental principle of playing the ball as it lies, providing free relief in such circumstances would make the Rules harder to apply (for example, what is the difference between an irregularity of surface and an old divot hole?) and could slow down play when there are difficult questions about what is or isn’t a divot hole.

      As a club golfer who sees the effect on revenue with fewer and fewer members, I am extremely ambivalent about the anchoring ban. We have lost some of our older players who have stopped playing because their putting was destroying the enjoyment of the game. I’m all for something which will keep amateurs playing for longer. The pro’s should have their own rules. They play a vastly different game from us in any case.

      • James

        Dec 21, 2018 at 9:19 pm

        If you’re over 70 you should be allowed to anchor!

        • smz

          Dec 22, 2018 at 12:46 am

          If you’re over 70 and you need to anchor, you should quit and take up shuffleboard. Nothing worse than an old geezer struggling to walk, swing, putt and constantly searching for his ball…. and buying new clubs annually in the desperate hope of not making a mess of his game.

    • Benny

      Dec 21, 2018 at 10:42 am

      Well said David!

    • jc

      Dec 24, 2018 at 11:51 am

      but with the new shoes, there are very few spike marks…now you have the waffle pattern or little depressions where the large round soft spikes are left..

  14. DB

    Dec 21, 2018 at 8:47 am

    Don’t care about drop height – whatever. It’s fine.

    The main issue is the failure to update the anchoring ban. Either find a way to ban long anchored putters or don’t. Right now we’re stuck in a middle ground where guys have found a way around the current rule.

  15. Brandon

    Dec 21, 2018 at 8:42 am

    The flag stick thing is what will hurt pace of play the most. If 2 people in a 4some want it in and 2 want it out and they are all bad putters then that’s going to be an awful lot of trips to the hole location to remove and replace the flag. Not to mention the extra spike marks near the cup from the increased foot traffic. At the amateur level this is going to really slow things down.

  16. Mike

    Dec 21, 2018 at 8:25 am

    I’ll start tapping down spike marks once my putting improves to the point where they start costing me strokes.

    So never.

  17. vince guest

    Dec 21, 2018 at 8:21 am

    Got to agree about knee height, makes no difference at all. Plus, do you get penalised if you forget and drop it from shoulder height? And if not then just carry on as before.

    • Willem

      Dec 21, 2018 at 10:16 am

      You won’t get penalized if you drop from shoulder height, but it would constitute a drop using an incorrect method and you would be penalized one shot if you played the ball without redropping with the correct method (ie. from knee-height).

    • Benny

      Dec 21, 2018 at 10:48 am

      Hi Vince
      No penalty. Just pick it up and drop from knee height. Couple videos on Youtube that go over the new rules and thats one of the questions. No biggie.
      If you drop from shoulder and play it, no penalty either. You simply play on and lost the chance of a knee height drop.

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