I had been meaning to check in on the latest changes to the Rules of Golf after seeing an article last fall that there would be a revision and new printing. Browsing through a few articles on the internet, I found out that with this revision, all of the different golf associations including the R&A and the USGA will be using 1 main document with the same formatting throughout, with the main difference being appropriate translations into different languages.
It was off to the USGA web site to find out what's important to know about this new revision. I found a "Complete Rules of Golf" document dated January 2012 and I clicked on it. It was 215 pages in PDF form!! WHOA! (don't believe me, check this out! http://www.usga.org/uploadedFiles/USGAHome/rules/CompleteROGbook.pdf )
What were the biggest changes? If you watch golf on TV you're probably aware of a couple of the rules that changed on January 1.
Rule 18-2b, "Ball Moving After Address". The big change here is that there is no longer a 1 stroke penalty and replacement of the ball if the player did not cause the ball to move. This would apply in the case of the wind making the ball move. But it's important to note that if something other than the player causes the ball to move, the player now plays the ball where it moved ball comes to rest with no penalty.
Over at http://www.golfweek.com/ I read the comment section of their article, and Dave Andrews (who wrote the book "Pops and Sunshine"), had a very interesting comment about this new rule...
"Under the new rule, a ball that has already been marked at a spot on the green could now have to be played from a greenside hazard if the wind blows it off the green. Also, that ball could actually be blown into the cup without an additional stroke being charged to the player. How are either of these scenarios in the spirit of the game? The USGA and the R&A should have ruled that the ball must be replaced at its original spot. That would eliminate a player being unfairly penalized or unfairly rewarded if the wind blew his ball as he addressed it to putt. I think it is an illogical rule that needs reconsideration."
Hmmm...what do you think? How crummy would it be if you were playing on a windy day, your ball is on the edge of the green, you get ready to putt it and it starts to move and rolls off the front of the green into a bunker or a water hazard? I guess the advice would be, hurry up and hit the ball!
Another change is the definition to Addressing the Ball. The ball is considered "addressed" as soon as a player grounds his club directly in front of or behind the golf ball regardless of whether a player has taken a stance.
Rule 6-3a, Time of Starting. Players are given a 5-minute grace period (and a 2 stroke penalty or loss of first hole) if they are late to the tee. Prior, players were disqualified if they were late for their tee time.
Rule 13-4, Ball in Hazard; Prohibited Actions The rule has been amended to permit a player to smooth sand or soil in a hazard at any time, including before playing from that hazard, assuming the smoothing action is done for the sole purpose of maintaining or caring for the course.
The change will allow a player or caddie retrieving a rake to smooth his or her footprints before the player makes a stroke from the bunker. According to the official USGA explanation, "the revision will save time and is practical in the sense that it will continue to encourage players to practice good etiquette."
Remember when Stewart Cink was penalized because he was standing in a bunker hitting his shot while his caddie was back in another bunker raking from his last shot? The change covers this.
Rule 12-1 will allow players to search for a ball that may be covered in sand and the ball moves due to the search.
There are several more changes along with several changes to the decisions. You can find more information at these links:
If you haven't read the rules of golf in awhile, or maybe ever, join me in a great refresher and education!
Filed under: Cathy Erickson, 2012, Rules of Golf