rules of golf

Reviewing the New Rules Of Golf

Golf’s governing bodies, the United States Golf Association (USGA) and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club (R&A), have finally done something for you to be excited about: a comprehensive proposal to change the Rules of Golf.

There are so many good changes in the proposal that it’s almost as if the USGA and R&A are trolling us. Are they drunk? Have they come to their senses overnight? Screw it; let’s not look a gift horse in the mouth and instead review some of the more notable proposed changes.


Putting Green

Easily the area of the game where the current Rules could use a face-lift the most.

Did you accidentally move your golf ball or ball marker on the green? No big deal! Just move it back to its original position with no penalty. (Most non-competing amateur players and weekend hackers did this anyway, because it just made sense.)

Playing on a windy day and your golf ball moved from its original place on the green? Maybe it even rolled off the green and into a bunker? NO SWEAT! Just pick that sucker up and put it back where it was!

Not sure if that is a spike mark or a ball mark on the line of your putt? Who cares?! Just fix it, pat it down, and roll the putt since most of us can’t tell the difference anyway!

And, perhaps my favorite rule change of all: you can leave the flagstick in the hole and you won’t get penalized if your ball hits it! PRAISE JESUS! Let’s all hug.

Penalty Areas (aka Water Hazards)

I never understood why it was against the rules to ground your club in a hazard. Sure, you may be able to “test” the ground conditions, but who cares? You still have to execute the shot.

A newly proposed change would allow you to ground your club in these penalty areas without penalty. You can even reach down and touch the ground with your hand!


You can now touch and remove loose impediments in a bunker when your ball is in that bunker. Hopefully this will save a few wedges from the horrors of hitting a rock on your swing.


You now only have three minutes to search for a lost ball instead of five. This should speed up play considerably on the professional circuit. This will likely have no impact on your weekend game since nobody cares that much.

You can take free relief when your golf ball is embedded anywhere on the course, except for bunkers. In the past you would only be able to do so if the ball was embedded in the fairway or on the green.

Video cameras will no longer overrule your good judgement when making a decision related to measuring a spot, line, drop point, etc. This would all but eliminate idiots (like me) who want to call-in to Rules officials from our living rooms.

Caddies can no longer stand behind their player as he or she lines up a shot while addressing the ball. I always found this to be unfair in the first place, so this rule change seems like a no-brainer.

Some Confusing Changes

While I am in favor of the vast majority of the proposed changes, others may cause more confusion unless additional specifics are outlined prior to their implementation.

For example, the new requirements for taking a drop is to 1) hold it above the ground at least one inch and 2) it must fall through the air before landing. There is no longer a shoulder-height requirement.

Are we really going to see golfers hover their golf ball one-inch off the ground to take their drop? Who is going to be the judge on whether or not the “one-inch” requirement has been met, and by what means? How would this proposed change benefit the golfer? I’m not seeing the need for a change here.

Another example is a rule already nicknamed the “Dustin Johnson Rule.” It proposes that “[y]ou are only considered to have caused your ball to move if it is virtually certain (at least 95 percent likely) that you were the cause.”

How on earth will that be measured? Can somebody be “93 percent” likely to have caused their ball to move? Or is the insinuation that it must be glaringly obvious to everyone that a golfer caused his or her ball to move? If that’s the case, take out the arbitrary percentage value and state the obvious.

What are your thought on the proposed Rules changes? Share them below!

Adam Fonseca

Adam Fonseca is the owner and Editor of He is also he host of the Golf Unfiltered Podcast. Adam spends most of his time making a fool out of himself on Twitter. (@GolfUnfiltered)