Your Golf Rules Questions Answered

At the start of 2019 we saw major changes to the rules of golf. In a bid to make the game as accessible as possible to new players and speed up the overall time it takes to play, a raft of major changes came into play at the start of 2019 that would affect professionals and amateurs alike.

The dust has now settled after a year of the new rules of golf and this has given way to a run of frequently asked questions about certain areas.

In this video Neil Tappin and Jezz Ellwood answer some of your questions related to the new rules – they run through what you are and are not allowed to do in certain situations to help you navigate what is often a confusing and potentially damaging area of the game!

Your Golf Rules Questions Answered

How much have the search rules changed?

A couple of subtle changes were made to search rules in 2019. The main change is that the search time has come down from 5 minutes to 3. That being said in amateur golf very rarely will someone get a stop watch out so perhaps it is best to just use common sense here.

If you do find it and accidentally move the ball then you simply have to replace it and play your next shot without penalty. In the past if you did this you would have been penalised for it.

What happens if I double-hit the ball now?

This has been a welcome change to many. No longer is it a penalty stroke when you double hit the ball on a shot.

What can I now touch or move in a bunker?

The rules relating to loose impediments have changed too. Formally you couldn’t remove a loose impediment from a bunker whether it be twigs, leaves or whatever it may be. Now however you can remove loose impediments provided the ball doesn’t move after the impediment has been removed so that is something to be wary of.

Has the knee-high drop caused issues for some golfers?

rules questions answered

In the past you dropped from shoulder height but now you drop from knee height. Some people have said this is quite difficult to do because of bending over but perhaps these people are in the minority. There is also debate on whether dropping from shoulder or knee height makes much difference but the difference in height could save people from having to drop again if the ball rolled outside of the relief area.

Is putting with the flagstick in a good change?

A very eye catching rule change in golf is now we can putt with the flag in which on the whole is being perceived as a positive thing in terms of improving pace of play. After the rule was introduced there was a transition period for many golfers in that some wanted it in, some wanted it out, but now those issues appear to have settled down somewhat.

Something to be wary of though is pulling the flag out with the ball still in it which could damage the hole and its edges.

What is the new unplayable option from bunkers?

Previously under the rules if you found your ball with an unplayable lie in a bunker, you would have to drop the ball in the same bunker, or go back to where you last played the shot.

Now though the R&A introduced a rule where you could drop back on line but outside the bunker. However this is a two-stroke penalty, as opposed to a one stroke penalty if you dropped it in the bunker so that is something to bare in mind.

When is the ball now considered holed?

golf rules questions

If a substantial part of the ball is below the surface of the cup, as shown in the image above, according to the new rules that ball is now holed. Whereas in the past it wouldn’t have been deemed as such.

Do I now get relief for an embedded ball in the rough? 

Playing under the old rules in a competition, you would simply have to play the ball as it lies. However under the new rules you do get relief and the process is thus – you would take the reference point directly behind the ball and then you have one club length arc no nearer the hole to drop the ball. You can use the longest club in the bag to do so.

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