Golf Australia

R&A: We want your Rules opinion

Rules on repairing greens will be become far less rigid in 2019.

Click to access the R&A’s feedback survey

The R&A has vowed to hear all concerns and views as golf’s governing body announces sweeping changes to the Rules of Golf.

David Rickman, the R&A’s executive director of governance, said all feedback great and small would be welcomed as part of the Scottish-based body’s rules modernisation process, announced jointly with the USGA today.

Read the R&A's press release on the Rules of Golf being modernised

A large reduction in the number of rules has been complimented by increased brevity and clarity in their application in today’s proposed changes, planned for a 1 January 2019 global introduction.

Among more than 30 substantial changes are that:

• Penalties for accidentally moving your ball while searching for it or accidentally moving your ball or ball marker on the green will be scrapped;

• Time allowed for ball searches will be reduced from five to three minutes;

• A ball being dropped will soon be able to be released at any height above the ground without touching anything;

Click for a detailed explanation of each change

• There will no longer be a penalty for hitting an unattended flagstick with a putt from on the green;

• Touching or removal of loose impediments in a bunker will be permissible; and

• Almost all damage, including spike marks and animal damage, will be able to be repaired on the green.

Rickman said he hoped for and expected great feedback on these and all the changes to the Rules of Golf from Australian players.

Asked whether he would like a collective response from Australia or myriad single complaints or inquiries, Rickman said the R&A’s online feedback system would “welcome and handle both”.

“I suspect the Australian golf industry will have an interest in that (group response), but we’d be delighted to hear the views of Mary from Adelaide – we’ll have a feedback form online and we’ve designed that to allow people to try to give feedback in a reasonably structured way,” he said from St Andrews.

Click for an overview of the rule modernisation initiative    

“That’s all about `we are listening’. This is a real and proper consultation process and that’s the best way for us to be able to then process the responses – hopefully the wonders of the internet will give us the ability to receive all of those comments in a usable way.”

Rickman stressed the Rules changes remained proposals and that a six-month feedback period would now be employed around the world.

“I would confirm that these are just proposals at this stage – we have taken time to produce them and they’re not frivolous; we have tried to think them through,” he said.

“But there may be something we haven’t thought of, a nuance or an unintended consequence of some of these ideas, so we are expecting these proposals to be edited and refined over the next 12-18 months.

“At the moment I think the overall shape of this code is reasonably close to where we might be in 2019, but I would not be surprised at all if there were a number of changes made between now and when they’re finalised.”

Rickman said while the Rules of Golf were constantly evolving, “this scale of change and review happens less frequently – probably 1952 and 1984 are the most recent times we’ve done something of this scale”.

Access a full draft of the new Rules

“Certainly it’s an extensive review and we believe the changes will be good for the sport. We have aimed the revision at the game as a whole, so irrespective of your ability and where in the world you play, we have tried to make these rules relevant to all golfers and easier to understand and apply.

“So the overall goals are significant and I hope relatively clear.

“We are keen to get feedback – to encourage golfers from around the world to let us know if they think the rules will work for them and … we hope many people will take the opportunity to let us know what they think.”

Rickman said the shorter ball search time and other promotions of faster play – including the encouragement of “ready golf” and a recommendation of not more than 40 seconds before your shot once it’s your turn – were important to the sport.

Click to view frequently asked questions

But he said some initiatives could not be mandated globally.

“We are introducing a number of pace-of-play initiatives … we’ve actively encouraged players to play promptly and a guideline for the first time ever that calls out 40 seconds as the absolute maximum time,” he said.

“We’re also actively encouraging clubs to check their own time pars and beyond all of that, a committee if it wants to, can be more prescriptive and detailed and seek to encourage play at a quicker pace.

“It’s a big issue for the sport, there are many solutions and the Rules have to play their part. But I think it better to leave it to local clubs to address the particular issues they’re facing. Those issues vary and therefore the solutions are different.

“I think this strikes the right balance. Certainly, in the elite game, we’re focused on penalising players and 18 months ago we had a pace of play conference and I was particularly attracted by the ideas of a number of clubs that actually reward fast play. That might be the ability to buy something cheaper in the pro shop or a free drink at the bar if you go round in a certain time.

“But we need a mix of rules to work in elite and club environments where at least 95% of golf is played.”

Click to access the R&A’s feedback survey


Posted by Johnno at
17/01/2018 02:59 PM
These modifications generally are in the name of fairness (and pace of play). Surely fairness would dictate that if one is unlucky enough to land in a bunker, that is penalty enough. Just because some thoughtless lazy player ahead of you stomps up the bunker face, or just leaves their prints unraked, one should not be subjected to further penalty. Were the miscreant a burrowing animal, relief would be allowed. And similarly for unprepared fairway divots. As far as pace of play is concerned, surely the shortest hitter, usually the highest handicapper should tee off first, and the scratch marker may need to wait until those ahead are 250 - 300 mentors away, for many of us 2 shots clear. (Would seem just like common sense).
Posted by Bronwyn Fraser at
18/10/2017 04:18 PM
We have a lot of kangaroos on our course and they dig holes but they are not burrowing animals. We should be able to take relief from such holes. They are too dangerous to try and hit a golf ball out of such a hole.
Posted by PETER WEBLEY at
08/09/2017 10:43 AM
Free relief for a ball moved accidentally Free relief out of a divot in the fairway Free relief from a footprint in a bunker These things to be taken on the approval of the marker.
24/07/2017 04:36 PM
Changes are great and agree with many here. Foot prints in bunkers - rake and place. Flagstick - leave it in for long putts, no option if all are on the green. GUR on divots and other 'holes'. Hitting anything in a hazard should not be a penalty, but you should not ground your club - there has to be some element of a penalty. Stroke & distance rules need addressing to keep players moving > or tee up a provisional - easy. Ready set play - perfect !
Posted by Mark Kelly at
24/07/2017 01:43 PM
was wondering where has the 20 inches or 80 inches come from, would it just not be simpler to be able to use any golf club in your bag, Would this not make play quicker again
Posted by Allan Harris at
10/07/2017 08:21 PM
foot prints in bunkers my course has a lot of green fee players especially on sundays, and they never rack the bunkers after they hit out.hence when you play after them your ball is very hard to hit out in deep foot prints, the pro,s have a caddie to rack the bunkers after they hit out. why not change the rules to allow you to rack the bunker then replace your ball in the same spot hence not being penalised for someones disregards for the next players.
Posted by keith lindsay at
10/07/2017 04:35 PM
all bad lies will now be called a divot - another opportunity for twisting the rules. might as well make it legal to take a preferred lie every time. would make the game fairer and more enjoyable
Posted by john tudor at
26/06/2017 04:39 PM
Certainly agree with relief from a divot on fairway but care actually is a golf strike divot. Also agree keep flag if desired in putting. Usually the ball richochets off the flagstick just as far as if it goes past the flagstick
Posted by Richard Roden at
18/06/2017 09:50 AM
Rule changes rarely improve a sport. They just create opportunities to take advantage of the changes which is unfair to other competitors. The only changes that I would fully agree with is to go back to the original rules of Golf. Get rid of rakes in bunkers so that they become true hazards. Take the stripes off the balls, it just slows down play, I've seen players adjust the position of the ball 4 times before putting. And penalise all and any slow play. Amateur golfers in groups of 4 shooting in the 90's can get around in 3 1/2 to 4 hours. 5 hours for two professionals shooting around par is joke and a blemish on the game.
Posted by Paul Bonnici at
11/06/2017 01:08 PM
a ruling that permits a player a hand span relief from a divot, if ball is on fairway.
Posted by Leah Considine at
02/06/2017 03:57 PM
Yes please relief from divots on the fairways very unfair for good shot
Posted by Brad Sernig at
31/05/2017 02:36 PM
I think there needs to be a rule in place that you can take a free drop from a divot! You should be penalized for a great shot down the Centre of the fairway.
Posted by Bruce Rundle at
27/05/2017 01:08 AM
A ball being dropped from any inch perhaps? I don't think so!
Posted by Peter Steel at
12/05/2017 08:22 PM
The moving of loose or touching of loose impediments in a bunker will that also apply to hazards,keeping in mind that a bunker is a hazard.
Posted by Tim conroy at
03/05/2017 09:32 AM
I do not agree with the proposed change to being able to hit the flag stick while putting. In my opinion the flag stick should be attended as is the case now. Players are going to deliberately try to hit the pin to stop their ball going too far past the pin.

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