(T.J. Auclair – pga.com) – The Royal & Ancient Golf Club and the U.S. Golf Association have officially put into place the moderized rules of golf aimed at speeding up the game and simplifying some of the game’s more complicated rules. There are five changes that we love and can’t wait to start using. Here they are:
5. ‘Maximum Score’ Form of Stroke Play
Explanation: A player’s score for each hole is capped at a maximum set by the Committee, which may be fixed (such as 6, 8, 10, etc.), related to par (such as two times par or triple bogey), or related to the player’s handicap (such as net double bogey).
A player who does not complete a hole (often referred to informally as “picking up”) is not to be disqualified, but simply gets the maximum score for the hole.
Why we love it: This is sooo much better than putting an “X” on the scorecard, or having that one playing partner who picks up and always says, “Put me down for a…” Whatever. Now you can put them — or yourself — down for a definitive number. This rule would also be a relief for those of us who are adamant about playing every stroke through the hole, even if it adds up to a number in the high teens.
4. Use of Distance-Measuring Devices
Explanation: New Rule 4.3 allows players to use DMDs to measure distance.
But a Committee may adopt a Local Rule prohibiting such use of DMDs.
Why we love it: Many of us may do this already. But seeing as technology in equipment has come such a long way, why should it only be limited to your golf ball and clubs? Instead of walking off yardages, it’s easier and — usually accurate within a 1/2-yard — to just go ahead and shoot the distance with a laser. It also eliminates human error (provided you or your caddie are in fact shooting the correct target). This may rub some players the wrong way, as they’ll no longer have a caddie to blame for an incorrect yardage.
3. Unplayable Ball in a Bunker (two-stroke penalty)
Explanation: The player has an extra option allowing relief outside the bunker using the back-on-a-line procedure, but for a total of two penalty strokes (New Rule 19.3b).
Why we love it: Let’s face it — there’s nothing worse than arriving at a bunker only to find your ball embedded in the lip. This new rule — even while enforcing a two-stroke penalty should you decide to take relief outside the bunker — will prove to be extremely kind to golfers. Think about it: Yes, it’s a two-stroke penalty, but chances are you were going to use at least two strokes to get out of that bunker anyway, right? Why not take the penalty and get a clean lie from whatever yardage you’re most comfortable with?
2. Encouraging Prompt Pace of Play
Explanation: New Rule 5.6 encourages prompt pace of play by saying that:
Players should recognize that their pace of play affects others and they should play promptly throughout the round (such as by preparing in advance for each stroke and moving promptly between strokes and in going to the next tee).
A player should make a stroke in no more than 40 seconds (and usually in less time) after the player is able to play without interference or distraction.
Committees should adopt a Pace of Play Policy (rather than only say they may do so).
In addition, new Rule 6.4 expressly allows playing out of turn in match play by agreement, and for stroke play would affirmatively allow and encourage players to play out of turn in a safe and responsible way to save time or for convenience (also known as “ready golf”).
Why we love it: Playing “ready golf” has been an “unwritten rule” for years. Getting it on the books just makes a whole lot of sense.
1. New Procedure for Dropping a Ball
Explanation: Players continue to drop a ball when taking relief, but the dropping procedure is changed in several ways as detailed in Rule 14.3.
When taking relief (from an abnormal course condition or penalty area, for example), golfers will now drop from knee height. This will ensure consistency and simplicity in the dropping process while also preserving the randomness of the drop. (The initial recommendation was to be able to drop the ball from any height above the ground).
Why we love it: This is as close as you’re going to get to being able to place your golf ball without actually placing it. Shoot — it may even eliminate the need to place a ball after two bad drops.