Global Edition

R&A and USGA Announce Proposed Changes to Modernise Rules of Golf

2.52pm 1st March 2017 - Management Topics

Relaxed procedures for dropping a ball allow the ball to be dropped from just above the ground
Relaxed procedures for dropping a ball allow the ball to be dropped from just above the ground

The R&A and the USGA have unveiled a preview of the proposed new Rules of Golf, as part of a joint initiative to modernise the Rules and make them easier to understand and apply.

The online release of this preview begins a six-month feedback and evaluation period during which all golfers worldwide can learn about the proposed changes and provide input before they are finalised in 2018 and take effect on 1 January 2019.

The announcement follows a comprehensive review process that began in 2012 with a working group of key R&A and USGA Rules administrators, professional tour officials and other Rules experts. While the Rules are revised every four years, this is the first fundamental review since 1984, and was established to ensure the Rules fit the needs of today’s game and the way it is played around the world.

David Rickman, Executive Director – Governance at The R&A, said, “Our aim is to make the Rules easier to understand and to apply for all golfers. We have looked at every Rule to try to find ways to make them more intuitive and straightforward and we believe we have identified many significant improvements. It is important that the Rules continue to evolve and remain in tune with the way the modern game is played but we have been careful not to change the game’s longstanding principles.”

The proposed 24 new Rules, reduced from the current 34, have been written in a user-friendly style with shorter sentences, commonly used phrases, bulleted lists and explanatory headings.
The proposed 24 new Rules, reduced from the current 34, have been written in a user-friendly style with shorter sentences, commonly used phrases, bulleted lists and explanatory headings

“We are excited and encouraged by the potential this work brings, both through the proposed new Rules and the opportunities to use technology to deliver them,” said Thomas Pagel, Senior Director of Rules & Amateur Status for the USGA. “We look forward to an ongoing conversation with golfers during the feedback period in the months ahead.”

The proposed 24 new Rules, reduced from the current 34, have been written in a user-friendly style with shorter sentences, commonly used phrases, bulleted lists and explanatory headings. The initiative also focuses on assessing the overall consistency, simplicity and fairness of the Rules for play.

The Rules are currently delivered in more than 30 languages, and the proposed wording will support easier translation worldwide. When adopted, the Rules will be supported by technology that allows the use of images, videos and graphics.

Highlights of the proposed Rule changes include:

A series of materials have also been prepared to explain the proposed Rule changes and provide background on the initiative. Found on randa.org and usga.org/rules, they include:

Golfers are encouraged to review the proposed changes and submit feedback online via worldwide survey technology that can be accessed at randa.org or usga.org/rules from now until 31 August 2017.

The feedback will be reviewed by The R&A and the USGA in establishing the approved final version of golf’s new Rules. These are due to be released in mid-2018 ahead of a 1 January 2019 implementation. Social media users can also follow the discussion using #GolfRules2019.

Players are reminded that the current 2016 Edition of the Rules of Golf remain in force when playing, posting scores or competing, until the new Rules are officially adopted by The R&A and the USGA in 2019. The Rules of Amateur Status and the Rules of Equipment Standards were not part of this review process.

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