Here is a quick rundown of the most important basic rules you should know when you start out as a golfer. After all, you don’t want to add any penalty strokes to your score for breaking them! Obviously, this won’t be a big issue when you’re playing a casual round with friends, but when you enter a tournament, you should be aware that the #1 of golf rules is: know the rules!
1. The three-minute warning
Your search party has three minutes (down from five) to find a lost ball. However, there’s no penalty for accidentally moving the ball while searching for it.
2. Taking Relief
No announcement is necessary when lifting a ball to identify it or to see if it’s damaged. Players may also select the longest club in the bag – not the putter – when determining where a drop is taken.
3. Plugged lies
Free relief is granted if your ball is embedded anywhere (except bunkers) in the ‘general area’ – the new team for through the green.
Accidentally hitting the ball twice will now count as one stroke, rather than two. Hooray!
5. An alternative to stroke and distance
At club level, a new Local Rule offers the option of taking a drop in the vicinity of where the original ball is lost or out of bounds, including the nearest fairway area, under a two-stroke penalty.
6. Trusting player integrity
A golfer’s “reasonable judgement” when estimating or measuring a spot, point, line, area of distance will be upheld, even if video evidence later shows it to be wrong.
7. Relaxed ‘penalty area’ rules
- Red and yellow marked penalty areas (new term for water hazards) may cover areas of desert, jungle, lava rock etc, in addition to areas of water.
- Committees are given the discretion to mark all penalty areas as red so lateral relief is always allowed.
- No penalty for moving loose impediments or touching the ground or water in a penalty area.
- Players may putt with the flag in or out
- Spike marks and other damage made by shoes or animals may be repaired without penalty
- No penalty for touching the line of a putt or accidentally moving a ball or ball marker
- No penalty for moving loose impediments or for generally touching the sand with a hand or club (grounding the club right next to the ball will still incur a penalty).
- An extra relief option is added for an unplayable lie, allowing the ball to be played from outside the bunker under a two-stroke penalty.
Forget about dropping from shoulder height. Players must go lower and drop the ball from knee height.
11. Maximum score
A new strokeplay format means your score on a hole can be capped at a maximum by the committee.