The new year brings about some big changes to the rules of golf. The USGA and the R&A have revealed some major rule changes that become effective on January 1, 2019. Now is the time to take a look at the rules in preparation for the new year that is quickly approaching!

For your convenience, we’ve put together a summary of the most significant changes to the game:

  • You may tap down spike marks and animal damage on the green.
  • You may now play your ball from the putting surface to an unattended flagstick left in the hole, even if your ball hits the flagstick, without penalty.
  • There is no penalty for a double hit (think T.C. Chen).
  • When dropping a ball, it is now dropped from knee height.
  • Time allowed to search for a ball has been reduced to three minutes.
  • You may move loose impediments, touch the ground with your hands and ground your club in a “penalty area” (hazard) without penalty.
  • There is no longer a penalty for touching or moving a loose impediment in a bunker.
  • For an unplayable ball inside of a bunker: A player may take relief outside the bunker keeping a straight line between where the ball was and the hole. The player may drop as far back on that line as they please.
  • Ready golf will be encouraged when it can be done in a safe and responsible way. Any shot should be played in 40 seconds or less.
  • There is no longer a penalty if a player accidentally moves his or her ball during search.
  • There is no penalty if a player accidentally moves his or her ball or ball-marker on the putting green.
  • As an additional relief option when a ball is lost or out of bounds: To help speed up pace of play, a player may (under penalty of 2 strokes) estimate the location of the lost ball/where the ball went out of bounds, go to the edge of the fairway closest to that point and drop the ball within one club length into the fairway and play from where the ball comes to rest.

To view all of the 2019 Rules of Golf and to read detailed descriptions, click here.