2019 Rules Blog
As we enter into the 2019 golf season, we are going to be playing our first few rounds with some changes. Not only with rules, but also some new terminology. Let’s go over a few of the changes that may affect you this spring.
Let’s start with the new term “Penalty Area”. Penalty Area will now be the term used for red and yellow staked areas. Yellow penalty areas have two relief options covered under rule 17, and red penalty areas have a 3rd lateral option as well as the two options allowed under the yellow penalty staked areas.
I will list the relief options but remember, the player always has the option to play a ball from within the penalty areas if they wish to do so.
Yellow penalty area options: 1) replay from the original spot using the stroke and distance relief option. 2) Drop a ball back on the line keeping the spot where the ball last crossed the penalty area and the player may go back as far as they want keeping where ball entered penalty area in line with the hole location. Once a reference point (the point from which the relief area is measured) has been determined, the player may drop 1 club length, no nearer the hole, on either side of the reference point.
Red penalty options: In addition to the two yellow penalty area options, the player may take lateral relief. Lateral relief is determined by 2 club lengths from the spot where the ball last crossed the red penalty area. Remember, the ball must be dropped no nearer the hole and the drop must be within the 2 club length area.
Let me take a moment to mention a few other changes that we all will run into:
1 – When taking a drop, a player must drop from knee height, NOT shoulder height like we all have done since we took up the game.
2 – New this year, a player may only search for their golf ball for 3 minutes instead of 5 minutes. I usually give up after 1 minute so I don’t see this rule making an impact on me.
3 – The player may keep the flagstick in at all times and a penalty will not be assessed when the ball strikes it. We have seen a few PGA tour pros already take advantage of this.
4 – The dreaded double hit only counts as one stroke now. This will save David Bailey a couple shots a round.
5 – When on the putting green and making a practice stroke, it is no longer a penalty for making the ball move by accident. Just replace the ball on the original spot and move on.
These are just a few of the new changes. It is important to review all of them so that “The stickler of the rules” at your local course doesn’t ruin your round on the first few holes. It tends to make for a very long and uncomfortable round of golf.
Ben Morey, PGA