Rule Changes from 1 January 2019

Dropping & Measuring

Measuring relief area where ball must be dropped and played

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

New procedure for dropping ball

Your ball must be let go from knee height and fall through the air without touching any part of your body or equipment.

Where dropped ball must come to rest

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.

Longest club, putter aside, to be used for measuring

A fixed distance of the longest club in your bag, other than your putter, will be used for measuring.

How to take sideways relief

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 ...

How to take back-on-the-line relief

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

No penalty for ball moved while searching

In the new Rules of Golf from January 1, there will be no penalty for accidentally moving your ball during search.

No penalty for moving ball on green

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.

Replacing ball when original spot unknown

When the original location of your ball is not known, replace it on its estimated spot.

Determining why ball moved

New standard to determine if you caused your ball to move.

Ball in Motion

No penalty for accidental deflection

No penalty if your ball in motion is accidentally deflected by you, your equipment, or your caddie.

Relief Rules

Relief without penalty for an embedded ball in the rough

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.

Time reduced for ball search

Your ball is lost if not found in three minutes, rather than the current five minutes.

Areas of the Course

When to replace moved ball on green

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 ...

No penalty for moving loose impediments in bunker

Relaxed Rules relating to loose impediments and touching the ground in a bunker.

Spike mark repairs allowed on green

Repair of almost any damage allowed on the putting green, including spike marks and animal damage.

Penalty relief always allowed from bunker

In the new Rules of Golf from January 1, relief is allowed outside a bunker for an unplayable ball for two penalty strokes.

Elimination of opposite side relief for red penalty areas

Relief from a red penalty area no longer allowed on the opposite side from where the ball last entered the penalty area.

Expanded use of red-marked penalty areas

Committees are given the discretion to mark any penalty area as red so that lateral relief is always allowed.

Relaxing rules in penalty area

No penalty for moving loose impediments, touching the ground, or grounding your club in a penalty area.

Areas committee can mark as penalty areas

Areas of desert, jungle, lava rock, etc. (in addition to areas of water) may now be marked as red or yellow “penalty areas.”

Flagstick can remain in when putting

No penalty if your ball played from the putting green (or anywhere else) hits the unattended flagstick in the hole.

Touching line of putt allowed

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.

Equipment

Use of distance-measuring devices

The use of DMDs will be allowed unless a Local Rule has been adopted prohibiting their use.

When you can replace a damaged club

You will not be allowed to replace a damaged club during a round if you were responsible for the damage.

Use of clubs damaged during round

A club damaged during a round can continue to be used, even if you damaged it in anger.

Playing a Ball

Ball accidentally struck more than once during stroke

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.

Caddie lifting ball on green

Your caddie may lift and replace your ball on the putting green without your specific authorization to do so.

Caddie standing behind to line player up

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

Capping stroke play hole scores allowed

A new “maximum score” form of stroke play is recognised, where your score for a hole is capped at a max score.

Encouraging prompt pace of play

It is recommended that you play “ready golf” and make each stroke in no more than 40 seconds.

Player Behaviour

Reasonable judgment shown when estimating and measuring

A player’s reasonable judgment will not be second-guessed based on later evidence.

Elimination of need to announce intent to lift ball

When you have good reason to mark and lift your ball, you are no longer required to first announce your intention.

Code of player conduct

Committees are given authority to adopt their own code of player conduct and to set penalties for breaches of that code.

Expected standards of player conduct

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.