Golf’s New Rules

I recommend that every serious golfer take a few minutes – maybe an hour – to review the summary of changes to the Rules of Golf which are proposed for adoption in 2019. These are well done and accompanied by some excellent videos.

This recent announcement outlining the changes to the Rules of Golf is a culmination of many hours of serious discussion by those who seem to find it exciting to delve into, and formulate an extremely comprehensive set of rules which leave no stone unturned.  There does not seem to be any situation which is not covered – irrespective of how infrequently it may occur.

Thank goodness for these rules buffs and their passionate, sincere efforts. In most cases these are volunteers as well as hard-working staff members of the USGA and R&A. I am pleased to say that there was also some intervention by golfers at large who — at the request of the governing bodies — provided some input affecting the final product. We need to commend all of those involved for a job well done.

The objective of these changes I believe was to modernize and update the rules, which in some cases were unfair. There is also an underlying objective which is, to encourage and persuade more golfers to play by the rules. This is important because in doing so, it makes the game more enjoyable as well as being a good indicator of the respect for the game and those who govern it.

However, for this underlying objective to be achieved the rules are too comprehensive and too long for most golfers to absorb and thus embrace. This does not imply that The Rules of Golf as proposed should be diluted but rather a simple version developed for 90% of the golf being played, covering the very basics (after all, the first 13 rules in 1744 were on one page and seemed to have been reasonably adequate for many years as the intent seemed to be clearly understood).

This concept does exist and was introduced by the R&A, identified as the Quick Guide to the Rules of Golf, as was a similar version by the USGA called The Rules in Brief.

This brief, “quick start” version of the Rules is adequate for most golfers, most of the time, and should include the caveat that these are the essence of The Rules of Golf.

Golfers would also be advised that for a more in-depth version and the primary resource for serious golfers, they should consult the “The Player’s Edition of the Rules of Golf” –proposed as a less verbose version of “The Rules of Golf” but still more than most golfers need.

The bottom line is that the changes are, in almost all cases, good and sensible and should have been adopted years ago.  The only problem is that if we want more golfers to play by the rules, we need to give them the essence of the rules – i.e. The Rules in Brief — and in so doing allow them to enjoy their game more by applying most of the rules they will need without tempting them to modify the rules themselves. This will be a move in the right direction of getting more people playing by the rules, lending order to their game.

As ever we welcome your thoughts.


To see a summary of the new rules on the USGA website, click here


4 thoughts on “Golf’s New Rules

  1. Excellent revisions. Have been waiting to see these. Great summaries as you write about Frank. Ought to help speed the game up – if people take the time to read and adopt. Adoption and retention of these rules will be a challenge. Course will have some duty to help inform. I wonder what the USGA plans to do in regards to assuring adoption and enhancing retention? Any ideas?

    I only wish they had adopted a rule regarding carts. Perhaps a two stroke penalty per side for use of a cart would help get people out of the buggy and on their feet!

  2. Excellent comments as usual Frank. These will speed play and should have been done years ago instead of trying to control technology which has made golf more enjoyable for many. Why did you leave the USGA?

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