A new Model Local Rule in the 2023 Rules of Golf will give clubs the power to compel players to use fairway mats – and dish out sanctions if they don't. Steve Carroll explains

Fairway Mats, The Rules

It’s often an exercise in carrot and stick – we’re talking, of course, about encouraging players to use fairway mats in winter.

For those clubs that bring them in to try and preserve the quality of their turf over the cold months, it’s often an order but it can be difficult to impose.

But committees dealing with the odd awkward member, or those who just flat out refuse to come to heel, will soon have another weapon they can wheel out to devastating effect.

Clubs that adopt Model Local Rule E-12, part of the 2023 Rules of Golf which come into effect on January 1, will be able to enforce the compulsory use of fairway mats.

The general penalty (two strokes or loss of hole in match play) is the sanction each time that is breached as players are judged to be playing from a wrong place.

The Local Rule isn’t recommended for use outside the fairway in the general area and isn’t authorised to restrict the use of putters in specific areas.

And it also, helpfully, outlines what players should do when they are using a mat and the ball won’t stay on it.

The Local Rule states the mat “must be placed” on top of the spot where the ball came to rest, and if the ball when placed rolls off the mat, the player must try to place it a second time.

If it still won’t stay put, the mat is moved to the nearest spot – no closer to the hole – where the “ball will come to rest on the mat when placed”.

If the ball on the mat is accidentally moved before a stroke is made, there’s no penalty and it must be placed again on the mat. If a tee is used to secure the mat, “the ball must not be placed on the tee”.

So rather than sending out another desperate email pleading with players not to rip up the precious turf, and to use fairway mats, clubs can now take direct action in competitions.

Will your club be bringing in this Local Rule? What do you think of it? 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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