New Golf Rules from 2019


2019 witnessed one of the most major change to the golf rules in the past 30 years or so. These new revisions are applied across the world and in the game in all areas. How would this impact your game? Here they are:

Shorter Search Time for Ball

You now have only up to 3 minutes provided to find the ball when you lose it. This is cut short from the previous rule which gave you up to 5 minutes. The rationale is that most balls were usually found within 3 minutes.

Ball position during a search

You will now not be penalized if a mishap occurred during the search for the ball and it was moved. This means it is easier to search as you can use your feet or your club to ruffle through the glass.

When finding the ball

You are not required to inform your fellow-player before picking up the ball once you find it to identify it it’s yours. However, it is still good practice to do so.

The provisional ball

With the ball search being cut to 3 minutes, the provisional ball automatically becomes the play ball once it expires. In the past, the provisional ball can only be played before you proceed to look for your first ball.

Changes in the allowed club length

Any of your clubs can be used to measure out a club-length in the past. The change now is that you can only use the longest club in your bag and this do not include your putter.

Dropping the ball

They have now changed the drop-height of the ball from your shoulder to knee. However, if you are used to dropping from your shoulder, there is no penalty as you can pick it up again and then dropping it from your knee.

Embedded ball and animal holes

When a ball gets embedded in a closely-mown area, the player would get relief. The update now is that you can now take a free drop from the embedded balls in a more area known as ‘general’. This could be in either the semi-rough or rough areas as well.

Meanwhile, relief is also given through animals intervention but only for certain species of animals. It has now changed with no restriction of the species. You get a free drop through animal holes or tracks left by the animals. Take note that insects and worms are not included in this list.

Ball in the wrong green

You can now get a free drop if the ball lands on the wrong green and if you need to do that from the other side. This was previously not allowed.

Accidental hits

If a ball hits the player or his own equipment accidentally, there will now be no penalty involved. This is different from the past when a penalty stroke will be incurred. In other words, you cannot use your foot or any of your equipment to deliberately stop a ball now.

Double hitting a ball

If it is a mishap that incurred a double hit, then there will be no penalty. This could be now be counted as a single stroke which in the past would give a penalty stroke.

Sand in bunker

You are not allowed to touch the sand in the bunker before the stroke previously but now they allow to do so accidentally. However, touching the condition before the stroke is still not allowed. Take note that you can now remove branches or twigs from the bunkers and penalty areas without any penalty.

Ball in the bunker

If the ball in the bunker is unplayable, you have 3 (one penalty stroke each) options to drop the ball. They have now added another. You can now drop the ball behind the bunker but this means you will incur 2 penalty strokes.

New penalty areas

They have added new areas which do not contain water as water hazards being one of the penalty areas. You can also now touch the ground of the club or out of the water to play it out of the water hazard.

Besides that, you also now have to put the ball back after you have moved or other external factors and after it has been marked.

Another major change here now is that there will be no penalty imposed if the player has accidentally moved the ball on the green. Previously, only certain exceptions were allowed.

The Flagstick

If you hit the flagstick, there will now be no penalty as you were previously not allowed to hit it since they have to remove it or tended during putting.

It was also common then to have the ball fall into the hole (with the flag removed). The new rules stipulate that if part of the ball is below the lip, it is considered to have holed.

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