A dummy’s guide to the 2019 Rules of Golf

Rules of Golf

From a change in how you drop your ball to plugged lie relief, Steve Carroll takes you through the nine major changes in the 2019 Rules of Golf

Ground your club when in a penalty area

Water hazards have been renamed penalty areas in the 2019 Rules of Golf. That doesn’t just include ponds and streams but even deserts and jungles.

Red and yellow markers still exist but when you play out of one of these you will now be able to ground your club.

That applies whether you are hitting off ground or out of the water. Make sure, though, not to improve the lie for your next shot.

And if there’s a lot of rubbish around your ball, you can even take it away. Yes, it is now possible to remove loose impediments in a penalty area. Be careful to ensure the ball doesn’t move. If it does, you’re going to be hit with a penalty.

2019 Rules of Golf

The time allowed to search for your ball has changed

Another new rule to cheer pace of play merchants everywhere. Unless you had someone standing nearby with a stopwatch, this was probably one of the most abused rules in golf. There are two types of player here – the one who gives it a cursory look and moves on and the one who absolutely WON’T leave until they’ve combed every yard.

They’d claim they’d only been looking for a couple of minutes when, really, it had been closer to ten.

Now the five-minute search time has been reduced to three. If you can’t find your ball quickly, move on.

If your ball moves while you’re looking for it, don’t worry

You were looking for your ball in some deep cabbage, accidentally moved it during the hunt and got a one-stroke penalty for your troubles. Cue a club throwing episode and quite a lot of shouting.

That penalty is now removed in the 2019 Rules of Golf and you just replace the ball in the original spot and lie. If that isn’t known, estimate.

The only thing to worry about with a double hit is the shame

A double hit was embarrassing enough without you getting a penalty for your inadequacies.

The stroke you used to tack on has been removed and you won’t even count it as two shots. It is just one shot – the one where you tried, and failed, to properly hit the ball.

When is a plugged lie not a plugged lie?

Rules of Golf

Did anyone really know what ‘through the green’ actually meant? That confusing term is now replaced with the more functional – and for that I mean boring – general area in the Rules of Golf.

This is basically anywhere on the course that isn’t the teeing area, bunker, penalty area or putting green.

At the moment, you can claim relief from an embedded ball anywhere in the fairway or closely mown area.

The 2019 Rules of Golf also extend that to the general area. Yes, you’ve guessed it. That also means the rough.

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