Fore King Golf

11 Changes To The Rules Of Golf


From 1 January 2019 the old 34 Rules of Golf were replaced by 24 New Rules.

This is a summary of some of the major changes to the Rules of Golf and a change to some terminology used in the game

Dropping Procedure (Rule 14)

Knee Height Drop

Drop from knee height (no longer from shoulder height).

First Contact

The ball must first make contact with the ground within the Relief Area.

Two Club Lengths

The ball can no longer roll up to two club lengths if this takes the ball outside of the Relief Area.

No Nearer The Hole

When dropping back-on-the-line, your ball cannot be played from nearer the hole than your chosen Reference Point.

Back on The Line

When dropping back-on-the-line the Relief Area is one club length from your chosen Reference Point.

Taking Relief (Rule 14.3)

When you may need/want to take relief:

Identify The Reference Point

The reference point is the nearest point of Complete Relief

Marking The Reference Point

You do not have to mark the Reference Point, but good practice would support marking the spot

Measuring The Distance

Measure the distance from the Reference Point using the longest club in the bag (excluding the Putter) to define the Relief Area.

Good practice would also support marking the extremity of the Relief Area

Where To Play From

Play MUST be from within the Relief Area

Searching For Your Ball (Rule 7)

Permitted Search Time

This has been reduced from 5 minutes to 3 minutes

Accidentally Moving The Ball

If you accidentally move your ball when searching for it, you must replace it.

There is no penalty.

If you are unsure where the ball was when you moved it, estimate it’s position.

Penalties (Rule 1.3c)

Double Hits

There are no penalties for a double hit or indeed multiple hits (it only counts as one shot) (Rule 10.1a)

Ball Hits You Or Your Equipment

There are no penalties if your ball rebounds and hits you or your equipment accidentally after a stroke. (Rule 10.1a)

Hitting The Flagstick

The is no penalty if your ball strikes the unattended flag-stick when you have chosen to leave it in the hole (Rule 13.2a)

The Putting Green (Rule 13)

Repairing Spike Marks

You can now repair spike marks and other damage on the putting green

Ball Accidentally Moved

A ball accidentally moved on the putting green MUST be replaced. There is no penalty

Ball Moved By Natural Forces

A ball that has been marked, lifted and replaced on a putting green is then moved by Natural Forces (eg wind or gravity) to another position MUST be replaced on its original spot

Ball Moved Before Being Marked

A ball that is on a putting green that is moved my natural forces before being marked, lifted and replaced MUST be played from its NEW position

Wrong Green Relief

When taking relief from the wrong green you MUST take full relief from the green (previously you could stand on the wrong green to play your next shot)

Distance Measuring Devices

Distance Measuring Devices

These are now allowed unless there is a Local Rule prohibiting them

Yellow Penalty Areas and Red Penalty Areas (Rule 17)

Water & Lateral Hazards

These now replace Water Hazards and Lateral Hazards

Penalty Areas

The recommendations is that all Penalty Areas are marked in RED, although marking Penalty Areas in YELLOW is a local decision for each club to make

Loose Impediments

Loose impediments can be moved, you may ground your club and take practice swings in a penalty area (just the same as in the general area)

Penalty Area Relief

You can’t take relief from a Penalty Area unless you are 95% certain that your ball is in the Penalty Area

Dropping On The Opposite Margin

The option of dropping the ball on the opposite margin of a Red Penalty Area is no longer available, unless it is provided by a Local Rule.

Bunkers (Rule 12)

Touching The Sand

If your ball is in a bunker, you cannot touch the sand with your club in front or behind the ball, during your backswing or during practice swings

Unplayable Lies

For an unplayable ball in the bunker, there is a now an extra option – to drop outside the bunker (back in line) for an additional penalty shot (ie 2 Penalty shots in total)

Loose Impediments

Loose impediments can be moved, (stones, leaves etc) in a bunker, provided you do not move your ball. If the ball moves it must be replaced and there is a penalty of one shot

Free Relief In A Bunker

If you are entitled to free relief in a bunker (from temporary water, GUR, or an animal hole) you have an extra option to drop outside the bunker (back in line) for one penalty shot.

Embedded Ball (Rule 16.3)

Ball Embedded On The Fairway

Free relief is allowed if your ball is embedded on the fairway or in the rough (i.e. in the General Area), unless a local rule prevents this.

The Reference Point

The reference point is immediately behind the pitch mark and the Relief Area is one club-length from that point, not nearer the hole.

Caddies/Assistance (Rule 10.3)

Standing Behind A Player

Your caddie, playing partner or another Team Member cannot stand behind you (to give you a line, check alignment) once you begin taking your stance

Marking The Ball

Your Caddie may NOT mark, lift and replace your ball without your explicit permission, except on the putting green or when you are taking relief. Your partner in foursomes or fourball betterball golf may do so at any time.

Pace of Play

Ready Golf

Ready Golf has been actively promoted to improve the pace of play in stroke play events since 2017

Time Per Shot

Players should be encouraged to take no longer than 40 seconds to make a stroke

Terminology Changes

Through The GreenThe General Area
Nearest point of reliefNearest point of complete relief
Play prohibitedNo Play Zone
Water HazardPenalty Area
Outside AgencyOutside Influence
Casual WaterTemporary Water
Abnormal Ground ConditionsAbnormal Course Conditions – Includes Temporary Water, GUR, Animal Holes & Immovable Obstructions