Changes to the Rules of Golf from January 1st   04/12/2018

Main rule changes to the Rules of Golf from January 1st.

Some Members will be aware of some major changes to the rules of golf with effective from 1st January 2019.  

The modernisation of the Rules was initiated to ensure that they are easier to understand, to promote pace of play and to make the game more attractive and accessible for newcomers.

The current rules booklet will be replaced by a Player’s Edition of the Rules which will be made available to all members.There will also be a more thorough version of the Rules made available, not unlike the current rules booklet, but with illustrations.

In summary, the number of rules will reduce from 34 to 24, achieved by combining similar rules and removing irrational ones.


The following examples are some of the principal changes

The word hazard disappears from the rules and is replaced by the term yellow/red “penalty area”. A Club may mark all penalty areas as red, at its own discretion.


  • Dropping  procedure: the ball will now be  dropped from knee-height
  • When measuring in taking relief, the longest club in your bag (other than a putter) must be  used.  A player may not select the shortest one for a given situation. 
  • The penalty stroke for accidentally striking the ball more than once in the course of a stroke has been removed.
  • For  balls lost or out of bounds, a Club may introduce a Local Rule, to allow golfers the option to drop the ball in the vicinity of where the ball is lost or out of bounds ,under a two-stroke penalty . 
  • There will be no penalty if a ball played from the putting green hits an unattended flagstick in the hole;  players may putt without having the flagstick attended or removed. 
  • Players may repair spike marks and other damage on the putting green and there is no penalty for merely touching the line of putt. 
  • There will be no penalty for moving loose impediments or touching the ground or water in a penalty area. 
  • There will be no penalty for moving loose impediments in a bunker or for generally touching the sand with a hand or club. 
  • There will be no  penalty for accidentally moving a ball on the putting green or in searching for a ball.  
  • The requirement to announce when lifting a ball to identify it or to see if it  is damaged has been removed. 
  • Time  for searching for a lost ball reduces from five to three minutes.
  • Unplayable ball in a bunker.. under penalty of one stroke may drop in the bunker or under penalty of two strokes may take relief outside the bunker based on a reference line going straight back from the hole through the spot where the ball originally lay in the bunker.

Members are encouraged to visit the R&A and USGA web -sites for full details but are reminded that the current edition of the Rules of Golf must be applied for the remainder of 2018.

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