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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 [email protected].

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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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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: Setting goals…and achieving them

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Well, here we are, diving right into the new year of 2022 and seeing where this crazy world is going to take us now. I think we will all admit that the past two years have been a bit crazy, with the arrival of COVID changing everything in ways we would never have imagined at this time two years ago. Regardless of your personal thoughts, ideals and emotions about how it has been handled, it’s been crazy, right?

But that’s not what this column is all about. Today I want to offer some thoughts on how to set your own goals for your own golf this year, and then some ideas on how to make those goals a reality.

If your golf – and getting better at it – is important to you, there is no time like right now to decide what you want to do to achieve that objective. Are you willing to spend the time and energy to work on major swing improvements? Or do you just want to try to score better with a minimal amount of time and energy you have for practice and work?

Are you living where you can still get out to the range or course frequently? Or are you stuck inside for another few months until Spring begins to show? Do you have the desire to invest in instructional assistance, or do you pretty much want to do it yourself?

All these are important questions to answer as you decide your goals for 2022. For today, I’m going to address three ways I believe any golfer can improve their scoring measurably in 2022, regardless of how you might answer these questions I’ve posed. You can decide which of these would have the most impact you your golf as you kick off 2022.

IMPROVE YOUR PUTTING

Regardless of your handicap, a great percentage of your shots are taken with that one club. So, if there is any one part of your game that should get the most attention and work, it should be your putting. Begin by analyzing your own putting performance. Do you three-putt too often? If so, is that because your lag putting distance control is off, or your make percentage of short putts is not as good as it could be? Or do you just not convert enough 5-15 footers?

Putter fitting has become much more advanced these days and is usually worth the investment. You might find that the putter itself is ill-suited to your personal tendencies in the stroke and alignment.
If your mechanics are not reliable, an investment in a good putting mat and a few hours a week will offer huge returns, both in short putts made and improving your conversion of more of those 5-15 footers.

HONE YOUR SHORT GAME

Next to putting, you are likely taking more shots inside 50 yards than anywhere else. Even if you are a GIR machine (and few golfers are), those missed greens are what run up your scores. I see so many recreational golfers who just do not have a sound and repeatable technique around the greens, and that costs them with chunks and skulls that run up scores quickly.

I cannot “teach” the short game here, but there are so many good YouTube videos and books/tapes on the subject, you have no excuse to have a poor technique around the greens. Spend some time studying and learning, and practicing in your basement, den or office. It’s a short swing that anyone can execute – but it takes work. And that work will pay huge dividends.

SHARPEN YOUR MENTAL GAME

Regardless of handicap, I believe many bad shots are ‘pre-ordained’ by a poor mental approach. Many golfers do not get their mind right about what exactly they want to do with any given shot. And very few have a set pre-shot routine that gets their mind right so their body can execute the shot. On the course, it is unproductive to try to process swing thoughts; or at least more than one simple one.

When you are facing a shot, you should have a clear picture of what you want the ball to do and a clear mind to get out of your body’s way of trying to execute that vision. The great book and movie “Golf’s Sacred Journey”, but Dr. David Cook, nails it – “See it. Feel it. Trust it.”

I feel certain that one of these three areas of attention can help nearly every one of you improve your golf in 2022. And I hope to be able to offer you more insight and guidance in that endeavor as I write each week. Let me know if you have subjects you would like me to address, OK?

Let’s do this together.

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Club Junkie

Club Junkie: Review of Fujikura’s Ventus Blue TR shaft and new Cobra LTDx drivers

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Fujikura has a new Ventus TR shaft out and it seems to fit right in between the Ventus Blue and Ventus Black. A Slightly stiffer profile and handle section seem to make a tighter and more stable shaft. Cobra has 3 new drivers out for 2022 and I think they are going to do very well. Great ball speed and stability on mishits keep the ball in play.

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Opinion & Analysis

2022 American Express: Best prop bets

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Alongside Matt Vincenzi’s chief betting article, here I breakdown this week’s best side bets for the American Express.

 2022 American Express best props

Lucas Glover Top-20 +400

The 2009 U.S open winner has certainly has had his trials and tribulations both on and off the course, but he looked in good shape when finishing in fifth place at the Sony last week and can put up a similar display this week.

When winning the John Deere last year, the 42-year-old broke a 10-year losing streak, and came via a closing best-of-the-day 64 and a tournament ranking of 3rd and 4th for strokes-gained-approach and tee-to-green.

Nothing much changes for Glover in that regard, and it was good to see him return to that standard of play at Waialae when leading the approach stats and ranking second in tee to the short stuff. That he was 30th off-the-tee gives a further boost to his iron game at present and he showed last year that he can keep the game going when finding form – T21/T0/T21/T23 – through the Charles Schwab, RBC Heritage, Travelers and Rocket Mortgage, at least two of those courses with a correlation to this week’s test.

A couple of top-six finishes at The Players show a further liking for Pete Dye designs, and whilst he will never win the prize for best putter, 2016 winner Jason Dufner showed that a solid tee-to-green game can keep you in contention, whilst they both have form at Colonial and at Sawgrass.

Glover’s first four starts here yielded two top-20 and one top-30 finish, whilst I’ll ignore the two recent missed-cuts given they were his first outing of the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

The vast majority of winners have played at least two recent competitive rounds before coming to the American Express (and its various guises) and Glover can take encouragement from the vast progress made when down the field at Maui.

Russell Knox Top 20/Top 40 +300 +130

The Scotsman is another that fits with the Dufner/Glover/Henley genre of player.

With an always impressive iron game, it is always encouraging to see players rank highly in approach and greens-in-regulation even if finishing lower than their overall game warranted.

Take, for example, 2021 finishes of 40th and 58th at the RSM and Fortinet. At both, he ranked top-10 for finding the short stuff and continued that form with the irons at last week’s Sony Open, where he ranked 4th for greens, 10th in approach and 8th for overall tee-to-green.

One swallow doth not make a Summer and all that, but he ranked 7th in putting average and inside the top-30 for strokes-gained-putting, a figure that will certainly help him gain his fourth consecutive top-40 here in as many starts.

Alongside finishes of 29th and 37th at this event Knox can also boast a couple of top-20 finishes, the latest 16th a figure that should have been better given a final round 73, he has a win at the Pete Dye River Highlands, and high finishes at Colonial, Harbour Town and Scottsdale.

After a 12-birdie weekend, he comes here in the form that makes me believe anything better than field average on the greens will land the bet.

Luke List Top 10/Top 20 +550/+250

It’s a trio of excellent tee-to-green players this week, and whilst here is another player that often lets himself down with the putter, the case for him to do well is strong enough to make him my play of the week.

Start with his current form, which reads 7th at the Zozo, 11th at Houston and 10th at the Sea Island course. We don’t have full stats for the first-named, but, at the other two, the 37-year-old has ranked top four off-the-tee, and 12th and 17th for approaches, figures that combine to give a ranking of top-four at both for tee-to-green. Also worth noting is that, at both, Luke was inside the top-10 going into Sunday.

That isn’t unusual for the former U.S Amateur runner-up, and once again, it has been the short stick that has let him down. However, rather like the two players above, List should only need to be field average in putting to put up a good show at a course at which he has a best finish of 6th in 2016 and a 21st last year, when a final round 72 saw him fall from an overnight 13th.

List also carries some of the most guarded Pete Dye form, his last win in 2020 being at TPC Sawgrass at Dye’s Valley Course, whilst in 2012 he won his first Korn Ferry event at the South Georgia Classic.

That event was held, until 2014, at Kinderlou Forest on a course designed by Davis Love III, a player that thrived on Dye courses, winning The Players on two occasions and at Harbour Town a total of five times.

Take a deeper dive into a few of the top two finishers at the Georgia track and Brian Stuard, Will Wilcox, Blayne Barber and runner-up Alex Prugh all have form at one or two of either The Heritage, Pheonix, Sawgrass, River Highlands and here at the Bob Hope, as it once was.

In an event that has seen many shocks, and that might be subject to the weather as they rotate around the three courses, I’m happy to be with a player with far more current positives than many at a shorter price.

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