The following are the main changes to the Rules of Golf taking effect January 1, 2019 that are expected to have the most impact on the game and to be of most interest to golfers.
The items covered on this page are organized into categories, click each link for videos and info graphics to explain the changes.
BALL AT REST MOVED
Ball Moved During Search – No penalty for accidentally moving your ball during search.
Ball Moved on Putting Green – No penalty for accidentally moving your ball or ball-marker on the putting green.
Determining Why a Ball Moved – New standard to determine if you caused your ball to move.
BALL IN MOTION DEFLECTED
Ball in Motion Accidentally Deflected – No penalty if your ball in motion is accidentally deflected by you, your equipment, or your caddie.
Measuring the Size of the Relief Area Where a 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, other than your putter.
New Procedure for Dropping a 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 a 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.
Procedure for Taking Lateral 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 measured using the longest club in your bag, other than your putter.
Procedure for Taking 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.
When to Replace a Ball That Moves on Putting Green – After your ball has been lifted and replaced, you would always replace your ball on its original spot, even if it was blown by the wind or moved for no clear reason.
Repairing Damange on the Putting Green – Repair of almost any damage allowed on the putting green (including spike marks and animal damage).
Touching Line of Play on Putting Green – 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.
Ball Played from Green Hits Unattended Flagstick in Hole – No penalty if your ball played from the putting green (or anywhere else) hits the unattended flagstick in the hole.
PENALTY AREAS & BUNKERS
Touching Loose Impediments or Ground in Penalty Area – No penalty for moving loose impediments, touching the ground, or grounding your club in a penalty area.
Moving or Touching Loose Impediments or Touching Sand in Bunker – Relaxed Rules relating to loose impediments and touching the ground in a bunker.
Unplayable Ball in Bunker – Relief allowed outside a bunker for an unplayable ball for two penalty strokes.
Use of Clubs Damaged During Round – A club damaged during a round can continue to be used, even if you damaged it in anger.
Adding or Replacing Damaged Club During Round – You will not be allowed to replace a damaged club during a round if you were responsible for the damage.
Use of Distance-Measuring Devices – The use of DMDs will be allowed unless a Local Rule has been adopted prohibiting their use.
PLAYING A BALL
Caddie Standing Behind Player to Help Line 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.
Caddie Lifting Ball on Putting Green – Your caddie may lift and replace your ball on the putting green without your specific authorization to do so.
Double Hitting Golf 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.
PACE OF PLAY
Prompt Pace of Play – It is recommended that you play “ready golf” and make each stroke in no more than 40 seconds.
Improve your Pace of Play – Ways to Improve your Pace of Play.
Expected Standards of Player Conduct – The proposed new Rules speak to the high standards of conduct expected from players.
Committees are given authority to adopt their own code of player conduct and to set penalties for breaches of that code. FCG Code of Conduct Policy.
NEW LOCAL RULE
Local Rule: Alternative to Stroke and Distance – A new Local Rule will provide an alternative to stroke-and-distance relief for a ball that is lost outside a penalty area or out of bounds. (This local rule is not applicable in FCG Events)
Credits: USGA, R and A, and Carolinas Golf Association