The new Rules of Golf have an important addition. Our expert looks at why the modifications for players with disabilities have now been included in the main book

2023 Rules of Golf

Golf is a game for everyone – regardless of age, race, gender or ability, and in the 2023 Rules of Golf, this has been cemented with the addition of a new Rule 25.

The Modifications of the Rules of Golf for Players with Disabilities have been included for the first time as part of the overall laws of the game and will come into effect on January 1.

Let’s take a look at what they say…

What did the old rules say about players with disabilities?

The modified rules of golf for players with disabilities were separate from the 24 Rules and they only applied if adopted by the committee in charge of a competition. They did not apply automatically to every competition involving players with disabilities and it was up to each committee to decide whether to adopt any of the modified rules for their own competitions.

What does the new rule say?

Rule 25 now applies to all competitions and all forms of play. Rule 25.1 says it is a “player’s category of disability and eligibility that determine whether they can use the specific modified Rules in Rule 25″.

Those categories are: Players who are blind (which includes certain levels of vision impairment; amputees (those with limb deficiencies and those who have lost a limb); players who use assistive mobility devices; and players with intellectual disabilities.

Modifications include, depending on category of disability: allowing the setting down of objects to help with aiming, stance and swinging; anchoring; and touching sand in a bunker with a club in front or behind the ball.  

What’s the R&A view?

Grant Moir, the R&A’s director of rules, says: “We have worked closely with golfers with disabilities for a long time. We’ve had the modified rules for over 25 years and they have been refined over that time. We’re always heavily guided and influenced by the players and administrators who are involved in competitions for players with disabilities.

“But we felt the time was absolutely right to bring these modified rules into the Rules of Golf so that there’s no longer a need for committees to introduce a Local Rule for them to apply.

“We’ve seen a great increase in the focus on, particularly, elite level competition among players with disabilities, which has been terrific.

“It felt like it’s absolutely the right time to make them Rules.”

NCG verdict

Standardising the rules and removing the need for committees to be the arbiter of which modifications were and were not permitted will be a substantial boon for players with disabilities who wish to compete in any competitions – elite or otherwise.

But this will absolutely be the case in club events with the modified rules now a central part of the book instead of being, as was the case in the Official Guide, the last thing you read.

What do you think of the changes? Let me know with a tweet.

More on the 2023 Rules of Golf update

We’ve painstakingly been through every update to make sure you have everything you need to know about the biggest changes, from penalties in Stableford, handicaps on scorecards, back-on-the-line relief, and much, much more.

Rules of Golf podcast

Steve Carroll and Tom Irwin sat down to discuss the 2023 updates on the From the Clubhouse podcast.

Listen in the player below, or on your preferred podcast platform.

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 23 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former captain and committee member, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the national Tournament Administrators and Referee's Seminar. He has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying and the PGA Fourball Championship. A member of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap.

Handicap: 10.9

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