Rules of Golf Update – Effective from January 2016

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The following selected rules updates are a synopsis of the full text to highlight amendments introduced from January 2016.  On all occasions members should refer to the R&A Rule Book for the appropriate resolution.

Most golfers only consult the Rule Book when they have a rules issue on the course.  However the R&A strongly recommend golfers read the Quick Guide to the Rules of Golf and the Etiquette Section at the front of the handbook to provide a basic understanding and to ensure the game is played in a reasonable manner.

Principal Changes

Rule 3-3. Doubt as to Procedure

In Stroke Play only, if a player is doubtful of his rights or the correct procedure to adopt while playing a hole, he may without penalty complete the hole with 2 balls.

The key actions in adopting this procedure are:

to inform his marker/fellow competitor

identify which ball is to count should both interpretations of the Rules permit either

report the facts to the Committee for resolution before returning his card

Exception to Rule 6-6d. Wrong Score for Hole

A player is not disqualified for failing to include penalty shot(s) in a score for a hole if he was unaware of the infringement at the time, provided he has not returned his card.  Retrospectively within the round, the 2 shot penalty may be applied plus the addition of a further 2 penalty shots for every hole at which the breach occurred.

Rule 18-2. Ball at rest moved by Player, Partner, Caddie or Equipment

Rule 18-2b (Ball moving After Address) has been withdrawn. This means when a ball moves after address, the application of Rule 18-2 should be purely based on whether the player caused the ball to move.

Rule 25-2. Embedded Ball

A ball is ‘embedded’ when it is in its own pitch-mark and part of the ball is below the level of the ground.  A ball embedded in a closely-mown area through the green may be lifted cleaned and dropped, without penalty, as near as possible to the spot where it lay, not nearer the hole.  The ball when dropped must first strike a part of the course through the green.

Appendix IV. Devices and Other Equipment

Part 5 relating to Distance Measuring Devices has been amended such that a breach only occurs should a player use barred functions within the device.  Previously the player was in breach of the rule if the device contained features that if used would be an infringement, even if not actually used.

Peter Oliver                       Club Handicap Secretary