Rules Refresher

Golf’s New Rules: Major changes effective January 1, 2019.  Below are expected to have the most impact on the game.

-Search time reduced from 5 minutes to 3 minutes.

– Ball moves during search, Replace with no penalty

– Embedded ball-free relief anywhere through the general area ( not bunkers, or penalty area)

-Measuring a drop- use longest club ( except putter)

-Dropping -must drop from knee height

-Ball unintentionally hits player or equipment -No penalty

-Double hit- No penalty if a player accidentally hits the ball twice in one stroke, the ball must be played as it lies

-Touching sand in the bunker incidentally – No penalty

-Loose impediments can be removed anywhere including penalty areas

-Unplayable lie in a bunker- can drop outside of the bunker ( using straight line procedure, 2 stroke penalty)

-Grounding a club in a penalty area-no penalty. Practice swings ARE allowed.

-Ball moves on a green after being marked-Replace without penalty

-Ball accidentally moved on putting green-Replace without penalty

-All damage to the green can now be repaired ( including spike marks)

-Positioning a club for alignment is not permitted

-Caddy/Partner assisting with alignment is not permitted

-Putting with the flagstick in the hole is permitted

-Ball wedges against the flagstick and side of the hole is now deemed as holed.


General Area- The area of the golf course that covers all of the course except for the other four defined areas

  1. The teeing area the player must play from in starting the hole he or she is playing.
  2. All penalty areas,
  3. All bunkers, and
  4. The putting green of the hole the player is playing.

General area includes- all teeing locations on the course other than the teeing area and all wrong greens.

Penalty Areas-an area from which relief with a one stroke penalty is allowed if the players ball comes to rest there.

Any body of water on the course including a sea, lake, pond, river, ditch, surface drainage ditch or other open water course ( even if not containing  water) and

Any other part of the course the Committee defines as a penalty area.

Formally defined as Red and Yellow Hazards NOW types of penalty areas.

Yellow penalty areas (marked with yellow lines or stakes) give the player two relief options ( Rules 17.1d (1), and (2).

Red penalty areas (marked with red lines or stakes give the player an extra lateral relief option ( Rule 17.1d (3), in addition to the two relief options available for yellow penalty areas.

USGA Rules of Golf for 2019