The R&A, golf’s world rules and development body and organiser of The Open Championship, has published revisions to the world’s most widely read rule book, The Rules of Golf, and extended its sponsorship arrangement with Rolex to 2012.
Golf has 34 playing rules and in 2008, 28 have been amended to a greater or lesser extent. All changes are agreed, jointly, by The R&A and the United States Golf Association, and can be characterised as improving clarity or reducing penalties to ensure that they are proportionate. They are effective from 1 January 2008.
Of the more significant changes, the most likely to be encountered by golfers in regular play are: revised Rule 12-2 allowing a player to lift a ball in a bunker or water hazard for identification purposes. There is a consequential change to Rule 15-3, which introduces a penalty for playing the wrong ball in these circumstances.
Revised Rule 4-1 reduces the penalty for carrying, but not using, a non-conforming club from disqualification to, in stroke play, a penalty of two strokes per hole, with a maximum penalty of four strokes per round. In match play, the state of the match is adjusted by deducting one hole for each hole at which a breach occurred, with a maximum penalty of two holes per round.
Revised Rule 19-2 reduces the penalty for the accidental deflection of the ball by the player, his partner, their caddies or equipment to one penalty stroke in both match and stroke play.
Commenting on the revisions to The Rules of Golf, R&A director of rules and equipment standards, David Rickman said, “We always aim to make the Rules readily accessible to golfers worldwide and the simpler, clearer language of the 2008 edition is designed to make them easier for players to use.
“The introduction of a Quick Guide to The Rules at the front of the Rule book will, we hope, encourage players to carry a Rule book with them on the course and to refer to it, when necessary.”
Rolex sponsored the 30th revision of the Rules of Golf in 2004 and have renewed their commitment to supporting the publication through to 2012.
The R&A is planning to produce four million copies of the rule book in English while Golf Unions affiliated to The R&A, reproduce the Rules of Golf under license in more than twenty five other languages, ranging from Arabic to Thai.
Companion publications to The R&A Rules of Golf, Decisions on the Rules of Golf 2008 – 2009 and Golf Rules Illustrated 2008 are published later this month by Hamlyn and are available from The R&A, high street and online bookstores.
Copies of the new R&A Rules of Golf will be distributed free of charge to golf clubs around the world and can be requested or downloaded from The R&A website www.randa.org