Summary of Rule Changes
Brief Summary of recent changes
Firstly and by way of an introduction I would refer you to Section 1, p.18, which is headed ETIQUETTE. Worth reminding ourselves of the manner in which the wonderful game is played; the importance that the SPIRIT of the game and the INTEGRITY of the Individual is never compromised. Working towards this end are the R&A Rules Ltd. and the Council of National Golf Unions (CONGU). CONGU are also responsible for the UHS and SSS systems which govern your handicaps.
The principal changes in the code are laid out in pp 6,7, & 8, but will confine my comments to those relative to The Rules of Play. The amendments to the Rules of Amateur Status etc. can be read at your leisure.
The first change is an amendment to the definition of ADDRESSING THE BALL. It clearly states that a player has addressed the ball by grounding the club in front of or behind the ball whether or not he has taken a stance. Some care should therefore be taken as any movement of the ball results in a 1 stroke penalty under Rule 18–2b.
RULE 1-2 (p36) is amended in relation to taking action intentionally to influence the movement of a ball or altering the physical conditions affecting the playing of the hole. There /
There is a distinction to be drawn between a player improving the lie of his ball and where he intentionally improves the lie of a fellow competitor’s ball. The first situation is in breach of RULE 13.2 and the second is governed by RULE 1.2. Both carry penalties of loss of hole in match play and 2 strokes in stroke play. In cases of serious breaches the Committee are empowered to impose a penalty of disqualification.
Previously RULE 6-3a (p48) if breached meant disqualification (DQ). The revision is now quite specific and is highlighted in Red, and states that , if a player arrives, ready to play and within 5 minutes after his starting time the penalty is loss of the 1sthole in match play and 2 strokes at the 1st in stroke play. Otherwise it is DQ unless exceptional circumstances prevent starting on time. Interesting that our Fixture Card carries a warning of booking-in 5mins. before the draw is made: so there are no excuses for being late.
Rule 12-1 (p62) has been reformatted for clarity. It deals with problems when searching for your ball, but, it is extensive and so I suggest you read the detail carefully and note particularly that “a player is not necessarily entitled to see his ball when making a stroke”. RELATED RULES are 518-2b & 26-1. Penalty for breach of RULE 12-1 is loss of hole in match play and 2 strokes in stroke play.
Exception 2 to RULE 13-4 (p65) has been amended. At any time you can now smooth sand or soil before playing from a hazard providing it is an action in caring for the course but obviously you must not breach RULE 13-2 by improving the lie/stance, for which there would be a penalty of loss of hole in match play and 2 strokes in stroke play.
A ball moving after address incurs a penalty of 1 stroke. However an Exception has been added to RULE 18.2b exonerating the player when clearly he did not cause the ball to move, e.g. a gust of wind moving the ball after address there is no penalty and the ball is then played from its new position.
RULE 19 -1 (p78) is wide-ranging and so I would recommend that you read the expanded NOTE which prescribes the various outcomes when a ball in motion has been deliberately deflected or stopped by an Outside Agency. E.g. The spot through the green where the ball would have come to rest must be estimated and the ball dropped as near as possible to that spot. Related RULES 27-1, 1-2 and 19-5 cover OB , FELLOW COMPETITOR, and STOPPED BY ANOTHER BALL respectively. On the PUTTING GREEN the stroke is cancelled and must be replaced and replayed.
The final change is in RULE 20-7c (p86), Note 3 has been amended to limiting the penalty to 2 strokes in stroke play for playing from a wrong place, even if another Rule has been breached, e.g. substituting a ball or putting a ball into play by another person when not permitted to do so, dropping a ball when it should be placed and vice versa, or dropping a ball in an improper manner.
The Rules of Golf have been written about and debated by many correspondents and discussions go on wherever golf is played that the detail and information could be presented in a more concise document. I would not argue with the current style which has evolved over the past two centuries and as the Foreword to the current Edition indicates “it is important that the Rules be faithful to their historical principles, they must be clear, comprehensive and relevant to to-day’s game”. The perceived complexity of the Rules seems to discourage the average golfer from having other than a cursory knowledge of the basics. As problems arise and a definitive answer cannot be reached we adopt the second ball rule and debate it afterwards in the clubhouse. A rough agreement is reached with what seems fair and reasonable, however , the answer may be found in the DECISIONS ON THE RULES OF GOLF published by the R & A Rules Ltd to complement the RULES OF GOLF. There are over 2000 decisions clarifying those Rules.
When I was introduced to golf at the age of eight I was taught to play the ball as it lies and never to touch it from tee to green until picking the ball out of the hole. A good principle to adopt and to have alongwith a fair idea where to find the appropriate Rule when in trouble.
Thanks for reading and wishing you good golfing in 2012.
George R. Carmichael
Ferntower, Perth Road, Crieff PH7 3LR