New Rules of Golf changes ‘not as dramatic as 2019’

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir November 8, 2022 12:33

The R&A and USGA have unveiled their four-year update to the ‘Rules of Golf’, which are said to be not as ‘dramatic’ as last time.

The new rules will come into effect on January 1, 2023.

The two organisations say the emphasis to the latest changes is on ‘inclusion and sustainability’.

For the first time, rules for players with disabilities have been fully incorporated into the playing rules without the need to adopt a local rule.

Several penalties have also been relaxed and language has been clarified to help golfers at all levels of play.

Other key changes include:

Handicap usage in stroke play: With the continued growth of digital scoring following the adoption of the World Handicap System, players are no longer required to show their handicap on their scorecard in stroke play. The committee will be responsible for calculating the player’s handicap strokes for the competition and using that to calculate the player’s net score.

Club damaged during round: The rule has been amended to allow a player to replace a club that is damaged during a round, provided the player did not damage it through abuse.

Ball moved by natural forces: A new exception provides that a ball at rest must be replaced if it moves to another area of the course or comes to rest out of bounds after being dropped, placed or replaced.

Back-on-the-line relief procedure: The back-on-the-line relief procedure, often used for penalty area and unplayable ball relief, has been simplified so that the player now drops their ball on the line, and the ball must come to rest within one club-length of where it is dropped.

“The growing popularity of golf continues to guide our decision-making and modernising the rules to promote inclusivity and accessibility is clearly a great step in the right direction,” said Thomas Pagel, USGA chief governance officer. “This latest evolution is especially important to the community of golfers with disabilities, and we hope it will encourage more people to play and enjoy the game.”

Grant Moir, director of Rules at The R&A, said, “We are continuing to improve and adapt the Rules of Golf to ensure they are in line with the way the modern game is played. That means making the rules easier to understand and access for all golfers and making the sport more inclusive and welcoming for golfers with disabilities. We are also working to ensure golf has a sustainable long-term future and making more resources available digitally is key to achieving that goal.

“It’s not quite the dramatic change of 2019, where everyone was having to completely relearn a lot of things, but we have been busy refining and hopefully improving in certain areas.”

Players are reminded that the current edition of the Rules of Golf (2019) still applies when playing or posting scores for the remainder of 2022.

Download the 2023 rules here.


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir November 8, 2022 12:33
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  1. SQCS November 21, 12:21

    Change the rule for a ball in a divot already smh

    Reply to this comment
  2. PowerGolf November 11, 11:55

    Thank you for your continued work to improve the game!

    Reply to this comment
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