Rule Changes from 1 January 2019
Dropping & Measuring
Your relief area for dropping a ball will be a fixed size of either one or two club-lengths using the longest club in your bag
Your ball must be let go from knee height and fall through the air without touching any part of your body or equipment.
Your ball must come to rest in the relief area where it was dropped, or else it must be redropped. If the placed ball will not come to rest on that spot after two attempts, the player will then place the ball on the nearest spot (not nearer the hole) where it will come to rest.
A fixed distance of the longest club in your bag, other than your putter, will be used for measuring.
In taking lateral relief, you will drop within two club-lengths of where your ball entered the penalty area. The size of a club-length will always be ...
One of your options for relief from either a red or yellow penalty area will be called back-on-the-line relief.
Ball at Rest
In the new Rules of Golf from January 1, there will be no penalty for accidentally moving your ball during search.
In the new Rules of Golf from January 1, there is no penalty for accidentally moving your ball or ball-marker on the putting green.
When the original location of your ball is not known, replace it on its estimated spot.
New standard to determine if you caused your ball to move.
Ball in Motion
No penalty if your ball in motion is accidentally deflected by you, your equipment, or your caddie.
Relief allowed without penalty for an embedded ball anywhere (except in sand) in the “general area” (a new term for “through the green”).
Ball change always allowed when taking relief For free relief, as well as in penalty situations, players are now entitled to change their ball.
Your ball is lost if not found in three minutes, rather than the current five minutes.
Areas of the Course
In the new Rules of Golf from January 1, after your ball has been lifted and replaced, you would always replace your ball on its original spot, even ...
Relaxed Rules relating to loose impediments and touching the ground in a bunker.
Repair of almost any damage allowed on the putting green, including spike marks and animal damage.
In the new Rules of Golf from January 1, relief is allowed outside a bunker for an unplayable ball for two penalty strokes.
Relief from a red penalty area no longer allowed on the opposite side from where the ball last entered the penalty area.
Committees are given the discretion to mark any penalty area as red so that lateral relief is always allowed.
No penalty for moving loose impediments, touching the ground, or grounding your club in a penalty area.
Areas of desert, jungle, lava rock, etc. (in addition to areas of water) may now be marked as red or yellow “penalty areas.”
No penalty if your ball played from the putting green (or anywhere else) hits the unattended flagstick in the hole.
No penalty for touching your line of play on the putting green so long as doing so does not improve the conditions for your stroke.
The use of DMDs will be allowed unless a Local Rule has been adopted prohibiting their use.
You will not be allowed to replace a damaged club during a round if you were responsible for the damage.
A club damaged during a round can continue to be used, even if you damaged it in anger.
Playing a Ball
If your club accidentally strikes your ball more than once during a stroke, there will be no penalty and your ball will be played as it lies.
Your caddie may lift and replace your ball on the putting green without your specific authorization to do so.
A caddie is not allowed to stand on a line behind you while you are taking your stance and until your stroke is made.
When to Play During a Round
A new “maximum score” form of stroke play is recognised, where your score for a hole is capped at a max score.
It is recommended that you play “ready golf” and make each stroke in no more than 40 seconds.
A player’s reasonable judgment will not be second-guessed based on later evidence.
When you have good reason to mark and lift your ball, you are no longer required to first announce your intention.
Committees are given authority to adopt their own code of player conduct and to set penalties for breaches of that code.
The proposed new Rules speak to the high standards of conduct expected from players.
More than 30 “how-to apply” videos and a summary of the principal changes are now available at http://www.golf.org.au/newrules. Additional education tools will be released in September 2018.
Players are reminded that the current edition of the Rules of Golf (2016) must be applied when playing, posting scores or competing for the remainder of 2018. The Rules of Amateur Status and the Rules of Equipment Standards were not part of this review process.