November 01, 2018

2019 Rules of Golf - Speeding Up The Game

Slow rounds are frustrating, but some changes in 2019 should help speed the game up!

Once again, we are visiting some changes in the 2019 Rules that will go in effect on January 1st, 2019. Many changes to the 2019 Rules were made in promoting faster pace of play. Below we briefly examine the changes that are intended to speed the game up.

Prompt Pace of Play – The new Rules encourage prompt pace of play by taking no more than 40 seconds to make a stroke; and also promptly prepare for the stroke, move between strokes, and move to the next teeing area after completing a hole. Playing “ready golf” is an option in stroke play and in match play is allowable for players to agree to play out of turn to save time. Additionally, the Committee may institute a Pace of Play Policy and set parameters that the players must meet or be penalized (must finish certain holes within a set time, must make strokes under a set time, etc.).

Ball Search – The maximum allotted time to search for a ball is being reduced from five minutes to three minutes. If you do not find your ball after three minutes of searching, it is lost.

Caddies – Two new Rules regarding caddies are intended to speed play up. First, caddies may not stand behind the player and assist the player with their alignment. Once the player begins to take their stance the caddie must not be standing near an extension of their line of play behind the ball (this applies to the partner as well). The penalty for breaching this Rule is a loss of hole penalty in match play and a two stroke penalty in stroke penalty.

Secondly, caddies will always be allowed to mark, lift and clean their player’s ball when it lies on the putting green. 

Flagstick – Another time saving new Rule is putting with the flagstick in the hole. There will be no penalty if the player chooses to leave the flagstick in the hole and their ball strikes the flagstick after a putt. If you think leaving the flagstick in the hole increases your chances of making a putt go ahead and leave the flagstick in the hole.

Maximum Score - The Committee may institute a maximum score on each hole. The maximum score may be set at a fixed score like 10, or a score in relation to par like double-par. It is recommended that this Local Rule not be used for high-level competitions.

Optional Local Rule – An optional Local Rule for when a ball is lost or out of bounds is available for Committees and golf clubs to adopt for daily play and most competitions (it is not intended for professional and elite amateur level competitions). Basically, the Local Rule allows the player to drop a ball near the edge of the fairway equidistant to where the ball was lost or out of bounds. Click here for an informative video on this optional Local Rule.

Learning the 2019 Rules will save you some strokes in just two months!

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