By now, most Members will have adapted to the new rules and the new terminology introduced on January 1st – dropping from knee height, putting with the flagstick in the hole, removing cones, twigs, etc from a bunker without penalty, the 3-minute search time, touching the sand in the bunker without penalty.
Well, there are some relatively unknown rules changes that may help you during a round and perhaps save a couple of shots.
1. If you have a fresh air, while it still counts as a stroke, you are now allowed re-tee anywhere else within the teeing area, playing two. Likewise, if the “swish” generated by the club passing the ball causes it to fall off the tee, you may replace the ball on the tee without penalty – your next stroke being your second.
Formally referred to as “through the green”, it comprises the entire area of the course except (1) the teeing area of the hole being played, (2) all bunkers, (3) all penalty areas, and (4) the green of the hole being played.
1. There is no longer a penalty if you accidentally have a double-hit, it counts as one stroke only and no penalty is incurred. This also applies on the putting green for those with the “yips”.
2. There is no longer a penalty if your ball accidentally hits you, your caddie, partner, opponent and their equipment after a stroke. The ball is played as it lies.
3. There is no longer a penalty if, during a fair search, you accidentally move your ball. However, it must be replaced in exactly the same position, recreating the lie even underneath leaves, grass, etc.
Caution! if your ball comes to rest short of where you believe it is and you kick it while striding forward to where you believe it to be, there is a (one-stroke) penalty for causing your ball to move as it’s not considered a search!. It must be replaced as above, with a one-stroke penalty.
4. When you drop a ball under relief within the one/two club-lengths required, it must remain within the relief area. It is no longer allowed to roll a further two further club-lengths. If it doesn’t remain with the relief area after two drops, it is placed where the second drop hits the ground.
5. Free relief for an embedded ball is allowed anywhere in the General Area except when embedded in sand. In taking relief, you drop within one club-length behind the spot, no nearer the hole.
6. There is no longer a reference to burrowing animals in the rules. You have one club-length free relief from all animal holes – rabbits, dogs, hares, birds, etc. – except worms and insects which are treated as loose impediments.
1. Formally known as hazards, the new rules provide the same basic relief options that existed under the old rules with one exception. The option to drop on the far side of a red penalty area is no longer available except by local rule. In Beaverstown, the lake at the back of the 15th green is the only PA where a drop on the far side is allowed under local rule.
2. Under the new rules, you may now ground your club, take a practice swing and touch the water with your hand or club without penalty. There is also no penalty if you remove any loose impediment from a penalty area as long as you don’t cause the ball to move.
1. You may now remove twigs, leaves, stones and any natural objects without penalty as long as you don’t cause the ball to move. While you may casually touch the sand, you cannot test the sand or touch it immediately in front of or behind the ball, take a practice stroke or touch the sand on your back swing.
1. You can now repair almost any damage on the green – spike marks, indentations, animal damage, hole plugs, except aeration holes and natural imperfections.
2. There is no longer a penalty for touching your line of putt, e.g. by your caddie pointing out your line of putt.
3. If your ball ends up wedged between the flagstick and the rim of the hole, even after a putt, it is considered “holed” once any part of the ball is below the surface of the green. It doesn’t have to fall to the bottom of the hole.
4. If you accidentally move your ball (on the green only), e.g. in making a practice putt, replace the ball without penalty.
5. In windy conditions or on sloping greens, it is advisable to mark your ball without delay. If your ball moves before you get to it, it is played from its new position. If it moves after it has been marked, you replace it. Needless to say, if it may move closer to the hole, there is no penalty for not marking it as long as you don’t delay play.
I hope this article has helped. There is no substitute for reading the little rule book to familiarise yourself with the new rules, particularly the Definitions starting on page 136.