Struggling to keep on top of the changes to the Rules of Golf? Here are seven that you might not have spotted…
1. Play with that damaged club if you want
A brief fit of temper used to come with a big price on the course if you damaged your club. If you did it “other than in the normal course of play” and changed its playing characteristics you couldn’t use it again for the rest of the round.
That has been swept away in the Rules of Golf. Now it doesn’t matter if you bent your 7-iron hitting your ball from the base of a tree or whether you flung it at your bag after yet another shank, the club is still treated as conforming for the rest of the round.
You can carry on with the damaged club or get it repaired. What you can’t do is replace it with another.
The only exception to this is when it’s damaged by “an outside influence, natural forces or by any person other than the player or his or her caddie”.
2. If any part of the ball is in the hole, it’s classed as holed
We’ve all seen the videos of the ball that’s parked against a flagstick in the cup. Is it in the hole or not? A YouTube industry has been built up on this.
This is how to solve it. Rule 13.2c states “if any part of the ball is in the hole below the surface of the putting green, the ball is treated as holed even if the entire ball is not below the surface”.
An exception to this comes when a ball is “embedded in the side of the hole”. On that occasion, even if the ball is touching the flagstick, all of the ball needs to be below the surface for it to be classed as holed.
3. You can change your ball when taking relief
Under Rule 14.3a, if you are dropping a ball in a relief area you can use “the original ball or another ball. This means that the player may use any ball each time he or she drops or places a ball under this rule”.
What you can’t do is change the ball, apart from a couple of exceptions, when it has been lifted or moved and must be replaced on a spot.
4. Still in the teeing area? Just tee it up again and play your second
You’ve had a lash at one, taken far more turf than you ought to, and the ball has trickled about an inch. Not only is there much embarrassment, and much amusement for your playing partners, but you are also at risk of further destroying the greenkeeper’s lovely manicured teeing area with a second swipe off the deck.
The interpretation of Rule 6.2, namely (6)/1, is coming to your rescue. It says “any time a player’s ball is inside the teeing area, the player may move the ball to another spot within the teeing area, and may play it from a tee without penalty”.
So just pick it up, put it back on a tee, and hit the ball properly this time – remembering that it is your second shot. Or play it as it lies, the choice is yours.
Just to be clear, the teeing area is classed as a “rectangle that is two club-lengths deep where the front edge is defined by the line between the forward-most points of two tee-markers set by the committee. The side edges are defined by the lines back from the outside points of the tee-markers”.
Our rundown of the seven changes to the Rules of Golf you might not know continues on the next page, including changes to the honour, practising between holes, and running out of golf balls…