The Major Changes in the Rules

R&A USGA

The purpose of this chart is to identify the main changes to the Rules of Golf in one place for ease of reference. These are the
changes expected to have the most impact on the game and to be of most interest to golfers and those who follow the game.
The items included in this chart are organized in the following categories. While some changes could be listed in multiple categories,
each only appears once in the category most reflective of the scope of the change:
Ball at rest Ball moved
Player accidentally moves his or her
ball during search
New rule: No penalty.
Current rule: 1-stroke penalty.
home page Ball moved Player accidentally moves his or her
ball or ball-marker on the putting
green
New rule: No penalty.
Current rule: 1-stroke penalty (with exceptions).
Ball moved Standard for deciding whether the
  Ball moved Standard for deciding whether the
player caused his or her ball to move
New rule: The player will be found to be the cause
only when it is known or virtually certain (meaning at
least 95%) to be the case.
Current rule: Weight of the evidence/more likely than not.
  Ball replaced

How to replace a ball lying off the
putting green when it moves and its
exact original spot isn't known

New rule: Replace the ball on its estimated spot; if
that spot was on, under or against attached natural
objects, replace the ball on that spot on, under or
against those objects.
Ball in motion Accidental
deflection
Player's ball in motion accidentally
hits the player, his or her caddie, the
person attending the flagstick or the
attended or removed flagstick
New rule: No penalty.
Current rule: 1-stroke penalty (expect it is a 2-stroke penalty
when the accidental deflection relates to the flagstick or the
attendant
  Double hit Player accidentally hits the ball more
than one during a stroke.
New rule: No penalty.
Current rule: 1-stroke penalty.
Taking relief Dropping
procedure
Where a ball must be dropped New rule: Drop in a defined relief area.
Current rule: Sometimes the drop is in a specified area,
sometimes it is on or as near as possible to a spot or a line.
  Dropping
procedure
Where a dropped ball must come to
rest
New rule: The ball must come to rest in the relief area
where it was dropped. If the ball comes to rest outside
of the relief area, the player will drop a second time in
the relief area. If the ball again comes to rest outside
the relief area, the player will place it where the ball
first touched the ground on the second drop.
Current rule: The ball must be re-dropped if it rolls to any of
the nine specified areas (Rule 20-2c), such as rolling more than
2 club-lengths from where the dropped ball struck the ground
Taking relief
(continued)
Dropping
procedure
Measuring the size of the relief area
where a ball must be dropped and
played
New rule: The relief area is measured by measuring 1
or 2 club lengths (which is defined as the longest club
the player has during the round, other than a putter).
Current rule: Measured by using 1 or 2 club-lengths (with any
club the player selects).
  Dropping
procedure
How to drop a ball New rule: The ball must be dropped straight down
from knee height(the height of the player's knee
when in a standing position).
Current rule: Stand erect, hold the ball at shoulder height and
arm's length
  Lost ball Time allowed for a ball search New rule: A ball is lost if not found in three minutes.
Current rule: A ball is lost if not found in five minutes.
  Substituting ball Substituting ball when taking relief New rule: A player may always substitute a ball when
taking relief.
Current rule: The player must use the original ball when taking
free relief (with exceptions); a substituted ball is allowed only
when taking penalty relief.
  Embedded ball Taking relief for a ball embedded in
its own pitch-mark
New rule: A player may take relief without penalty for
anl embedded ball anywhere in the general area"
(new term for "through the green" )unless a Local
Rule has been adopted restricting relief only to areas
cut to fairway height or less. The general area is the
new tterm for "throughthe green".
Current rule: Relief is allowed only in areas cut to fairway
height or less, unless a Local Rule has been adopted allowing
relief anywhere (except in sand) through the green.
Areas of the
course
Putting green Replacing a ball on the putting green
when it moves from its spot after it
already had been lifted and replaced
New rule: The ball must always be replaced on its
original spot, even if it was blown by the wind or
moved for no clear reason.
Current rule: The ball is replaced only if a player or outside
agency caused it to move; otherwise, the ball is played from its
new location.
  Putting green Repairing damage on the putting
green
New rule: A player may repair almost any damage
(including spike marks and animal damage but not
including natural imperfections) on the putting green.
Current rule: A player may only repair ball-marks or old hole
plugs on the putting green.
  Putting green Player touches the line of putt or
touches the putting green in pointing
out a target
New rule: No penalty, so long as doing so does not
improve the conditions for the player's stroke
Current rule: Loss of hole/2-stroke penalty (with exceptions).
home page Putting green Putting with an unattended flagstick
left in the hole
New rule: No penalty if a ball played from the putting
green (or anywhere else) hits the unattended flagstick
in hole.
Current rule: Loss of hole/2-stroke penalty if the ball is played
from the putting green and hits the unattended flagstick in
hole.
  Penalty areas Areas the Committee may mark as a
penalty area (where relief with 1-
stroke penalty is allowed)
New rule: Red- and yellow-marked penalty areas
may now cover areas of desert, jungle, lava rock, etc,
in addition to areas of water.
Current rule: The Committee may only mark an area of water
as a "water hazard".
  Penalty areas Player moves loose impediments,
touches the ground with hand or club
or grounds the club in a penalty area
when the ball is in the penalty area
New rule: No penalty.
Current rule: Loss of hole/2-stroke penalty (with exceptions).
Areas of the
course
(continued)
Penalty areas Expanded use of red-marked penalty
areas
New rule: Committees are given the discretion to
mark all penalty areas as red so that lateral relief is
always allowed (but they may still mark penalty areas
as yellow where they consider it appropriate).
Current rule: All water hazards should be marked yellow,
except where their location on the course makes it impossible
or unreasonable to drop behind the hazard; only when this is
the case may these water hazards be marked red as lateral
water hazards.
  Penalty areas Elimination of the opposite side relief
option for red penalty areas
New rule: A player is no longer allowed to take relief
from a red penalty area on the opposite side from
where the ball last entered that penalty area, unless
the Committee adopts a Local Rule allowing it.
Current rule: A player is always allowed to take relief from
the opposite side of a red-marked lateral water hazard.
  Bunkers Player moves or touches a loose
impediment in a bunker when the ball
is in the bunker
New rule: No penalty.
Current rule: Loss of hole/2-stroke penalty (with exceptions).
  Bunkers Player touches sand in a bunker with
his or her hand or a club when the
ball is in the bunker
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, (2) in making a practice
swing, (3) with the club in the area right behind or
in front of the ball or (4) in making the backswing
for the stroke.
Current rule: Any touching of sand with hand or club results
in loss of hole/2-stroke penalty (with exceptions).
  Bunkers Unplayable ball relief options New rule: A player may take relief outside the bunker
back on the line from the hole through where ball was
at rest for 2 penalty strokes.
Current rule: No relief outside the bunker (other than in
paying from where the plauer's last stroke was made.
Equipment Damaged clubs Use of clubs damaged during round New rule: A player may keep using any damaged club,
no matter the nature or cause of the damage, even if
the player damaged it in anger.
Current rule: A player may use the damaged club only if it was
damaged in the normal course of play.
  Damaged clubs Adding clubs to replace a club
damaged during round
New rule: A player may not replace a damaged club,
unless the player was not responsible for the damage.
Current rule: A player may replace a damaged club if it is
unfit for play and was damaged in the normal course of
play.
  Other
equipment
Use of distance-measuring devices
(DMDs)
New rule: The use of DMDs is allowed, unless a Local
Rule has been adopted prohibiting their use.
Current rule: DMD use is prohibited, unless a Local Rule has
been adopted allowing their use.
Playing a ball Advice and help Caddie standing behind a player to
help with that player's alignment
New rule: A caddie is not allowed to deliberately
stand on or close to the extended line of play behind
a player while the player is taking his or her stance
until the stroke is made.
Current rule: A caddie is allowed to stand on a line behind a
player while the player is taking a stance and preparing to play,
but must not stand there while the player makes the stroke.
  Advice and help Caddie lifts and replaces the player's
ball on the putting green
New rule: A caddie may lift and replacee the player's
ball on the putting green without the player's skpecific
authorization to do so.
Current rule: 1stroke penalty if done without the player's
specific authorization.
When to play
during a round
Pace of play Recommendations on how to play
promptly
New rule: Recommends that players make each
stroke in no more than 40 seconds, and usually in less
time.
Current rule: No recommendations are given.
When to play
during a round
(continued)
Pace of play Playing out of turn in stroke play New Rule No penalty (astoday), and ready golf is
encouraged when it can be done in a safe and
responsible way.
Current rule: No penalty, but the current Rule is written in a
way that may imply that playing out of turn is wrong or is not
allowed.
  Pace of play Other changes to help pace of play Other new rules: Reduced time for search, allowing
more areas to be marked as penalty areas, expanded
use of red penalty areas, the simplified dropping
procedure and allowing a player to putt with the
flagstick in the hole.
  Pace of play New alternative form of stroke play New rule; A new Maximun Score form of stroke
play is recognized,where a player's score for a hole is
capped at a maximum score (such as two times par,
a fixed number or net double bogey) that is set by
the Committee.
Current rule: In standard individual stroke play, players must
hole out at every hole; the only recognized alternative forms
of stroke play where holing out is not required are Stableford,
Par and Bogey.
Player behavior Standards of
conduct
Playing in the spirit of the game New rule: Explains and reinforces the high standards
of conduct expected from players and gives
Committees the discretion to disqualify players for
serious misconduct.
Current rule: The Rules set out no standards of conduct,
except indirectly in giving Committees discretion to disqualify
players for a serious breach of etiquette.
  Standards of
conduct
Code of player conduct New rule: Committees are given authority to adopt
their own code of player conduct and to set penalties
for the breach of the standards in that code.
Current rule: Committees may disqualify players for a serious
breach of etiquette, but are not allowed to impose lesser
penalties such as a 1-stroke penalty or a loss of hole/2-stroke
penalty.
Player behavior
(continued)
Integrity Eliminating announcement
requirements before lifting a ball
under certain Rules
New rule: When a player has good reason to mark
and lift a ball to identify it, check for damage or see if
it lies in a condition where relief is allowed (such as to
see whether it is embedded), the player is no longer
required first to announce to another player or his or
her marker the intent to do so or to give that person
an opportunity to observe the process.
Current rule: Before lifting in these cases, the player must
announce to another player or the marker that he or she is
doing so and allow that person to observe the process.
  Integrity Player's reasonable judgment in
estimating and measuring under a
Rule
New rule: When determining a spot, point, line, area
or other location under a rule, a player's reasonable
judgment will not be second-guessed based on later
evidence (such as video review) if the player did all
that could be reasonably expected under the
circumstances to make an accurate estimation or
measurement.
Current rule: A player's judgement is given no particular weight
or deference; the Committee decides any issue about the
accuracy of the estimation or measurement based on a review
of all facts.
home page