The R&A and the USGA have undertaken a program to modernise the rules of golf. The primary aim has been to simplify the rules and to help the speed of play so that your golf is more enjoyable.
Key changes include changes to some definitions and simplification of the rules. The rules are available in a shorter and more user-friendly “Players Edition” and also in a “Full Rules Edition” which is targeted for competition officials.
Penalty Area– an area from which relief with a 1 shot penalty is allowed (formerly ‘Water Hazard’).
General Area – anywhere on the course except Teeing areas, Penalty areas, Bunkers and Greens (formerly ‘Through the Green’)
Temporary Water – formerly ‘Casual Water’
Elimination of “Ball Moved” penalties
There will be no penalty for accidentally moving a ball on the putting green or in searching for a ball.
Relaxed Putting Green rules
There will be no penalty if a ball played from the putting green hits an unattended flagstick in the hole.
Relaxed rules for Penalty Areas
Expanded use of red penalty areas where lateral relief is allowed; and there will be no penalty for moving loose impediments or touching the ground or water in a Penalty Area.
Relaxed Bunker rules
There will be no penalty for moving loose impediments (stones, leaves, etc.) in a bunker or for generally touching the sand with a hand or club (but not directly in front of or behind the ball). An extra relief option is added for an unplayable ball, allowing the ball to be played from outside the bunker with a two-stroke penalty.
Reduced time for searching for a lost ball (from five minutes to three); encouragement of “ready golf” in Stroke Play. Players may also agree to play out of turn in Match Play.
Simplified way of taking relief
A new procedure for taking relief by dropping a ball in and playing it from a specific ‘Relief Area’; relaxed procedures for dropping a ball, the ball to be dropped from knee height.
The information and links to videos below will help players to quickly understand the key changes. All players are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the new rules.
The links below take you to more detailed videos on specific topics. Marked in red are rules that you should pay particular attention to.
BALL AT REST
Ball accidentally moved during search
THE PUTTING GREEN
PLAYING THE BALL
WHEN TO PLAY DURING A ROUND
For more information, see the New Rules of Golf 2019 page on this website.