In 2019, the USGA implemented a moderate amount of new rules for golf with a focus on improving the pace of play. While most charity or fundraising tournaments are played in a more relaxed manner and often under special rules, it’s important to stay up to date on the latest rule changes in case you find yourself in a more serious event. Many of golf’s new rules are favorable to the golfer, and we’ll cover a few of those here, as well as one not so helpful.
The most talked about rule change in golf this year is the ability to leave the flagstick in the cup while putting. Whether putting with the pin in is beneficial or not is sure to be debated for years to come. Many of us solo golfers have been putting with the pin in forever. However you feel about it, it’s bound to speed up rounds, and can’t hurt if you really like to power your putts to the hole.
One of the most underrated rule changes is ball drops no longer occur from shoulder height and can now be dropped from the knee. While this may seem like no big deal to some, I’m sure there are many others out there who have experienced horrible bounces from those high altitude ball drops. Especially for the taller golfer, this reduced drop height is sure to come in handy.
Speaking of dropping a new ball, one rule that is sure to hurt a lot of golfers is the reduced time to search for a lost ball. The old standard of five minutes has now been reduced to three. This is a big push to increase the speed of rounds but will undoubtedly increase scores for a large portion of the golfing population. May I suggest iron off the tee?
Another infraction off the rule book is grounding your club in a penalty area. This was a rule a lot of casual golfers are unaware of and one that could be interpreted maliciously with the wrong playing partner. You are also allowed to move loose impediments and touch the ground in penalty areas, so play from those areas will be fairer to the golfer.
These rule changes in golf will promote a more relaxed, casual feel to the average round. Tournament play should be impacted positively overall, with faster round times leading to a greater interest in the sport. Next time you’re out on the course, be sure to keep these changes in mind and use them to your advantage.
About the Author: Brian Neufeld
Brian Neufeld’s background includes more than 15 years of experience in golf course management, specializing in agronomy. Brian uses his knowledge of the game and best practices in turf sustention to create informative pieces for GolfTourney.com’s readers.