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Over 20,000 golfers comment on proposed new rules

The R&A and the USGA have received comments on the proposed new Rules from more than 22,000 golfers in 102 countries, as well as representatives of golf organisations throughout the world, providing valuable feedback as the organisations work toward their implementation on 1 January 2019.

With the worldwide survey and evaluation period now complete, The R&A and the USGA and their respective committees will continue to review all comments received with the goal of finalising the new Rules next spring and beginning a comprehensive education programme later in 2018.

The R&A and the USGA began an extensive review of the Rules starting in 2012, with the intention of making them easier to understand and apply. A draft of the new Rules – reduced from the current 34 to a proposed 24 Rules – was released in March, beginning the six-month feedback period that was open to the entire golf community.

David Rickman, Executive Director – Governance at The R&A, said, “It is pleasing to see that so many people from different parts of the world have taken this opportunity to engage with the process of modernising the Rules. We have received insightful comments and suggestions from throughout the professional and amateur game and will take time to consider the feedback in detail. We will then work on finalising the changes ahead of their implementation in 2019.”

While the feedback will continue to be analysed over the next few months, several common themes emerged, including:

  • Golfers are enthusiastic about the scope and direction of the overall changes, such as pace-of-play improvements, the elimination of penalties and streamlined procedures.
  • Golfers provided the most feedback on the proposed Rules changes focused on the putting green (such as putting with the flagstick left in the hole, repairing spike marks and eliminating the penalty for accidentally moving a ball); the creation of “penalty areas” (extending water hazard type relief and eliminating penalties for moving loose impediments and grounding a club); and the new dropping procedures (including the size of “relief areas”).
  • Golfers strongly welcomed the new Player’s Edition of the Rules and found it much easier to read and understand.

The current 2016 edition of the Rules of Golf remains in effect when playing, posting scores or competing until the 1 January 2019 adoption of the new Rules.