Tuesday, 7 March 2017

More on Rules Modernis(z)ation

At this time, less than a week after the R&A and USGA unveiled their preview of the proposed new Rules of Golf, I have decided not to comment in any detail about my opinions on any of the changes. A lesson that I have learned during the 10 plus years that I have been studying and blogging on the Rules of Golf, is that there is little to be gained by making instant judgements based on personal, limited experiences and preferences, without carefully considering the potential consequences for others, as there are often several implications, which may not be immediately apparent, to absorb and think through. Overall, I welcome the proposals, particularly those that relate to improving the pace of play, which to my mind is one of the biggest issues facing the future of recreational golf.

For those of you that have not seen, or have not been interested in studying the detail of the Ruling Bodies’ proposals at this very early stage, here is my brief outline of 10 of the most significant changes affecting amateur golfers;

1.    There is no penalty when a player’s ball in motion accidentally hits them, or their equipment (e.g. it rebounds off the lip of a bunker).

2.    A ball may be dropped from any height (yes, even one inch!)

3.    Defined relief areas (e.g. for dropping) to be either 20" or 80" (not club-lengths). This translates to 50.8 cm and 203.2 cm!

4.    A ball is lost after 3 minutes search.

5.    There is to be relief for a ball that is embedded anywhere, except in sand.

6.    The flagstick may be left in the hole while putting.

7.    Spike marks and other damage to the putting green may be repaired before making a stroke.

8.    Increased use of red penalty areas (previously known as lateral water hazards), so that lateral relief is always allowed from them, even if they are not areas of water (e.g. deserts, jungles, or lava rock fields).

9.    There is no penalty for removing loose impediments in either penalty areas or bunkers.

10.    A caddie is not permitted to line up their player before they make a putt, or any other stroke.

Please remember that the above outlines just 10 of the proposals, which are not yet in operation and even if they are agreed are unlikely to replace the existing Rules until January 2019. This is the published, estimated timeline from the Ruling Bodies;

  • To March 2017: Gathering feedback on the drafts of the proposals.
  • March 1st 2017: Announcement of the proposed new Rules of Golf.
  • March 2017 to August 2017: Seeking public feedback for further evaluation.
  • August 2017 to spring 2018: Reviewing and approving the new Rules
  • Spring 2018: Announcement of the new Rules
  • January 1st 2019: The new Rules take effect
Apparently, the R&A and USGA have been working on these proposed changes for over 5 years and have gone through 7 iterative drafts. I am aware that many golfers criticise those that are closely involved with the Ruling Bodies as being geriatric, blue blazers’ ensconced in their ‘ivory tower’ and totally out of touch with the playing of the game of golf. My experience is that this is very far from the truth. I can categorically say that all those that I have met and have had dealings with are dedicated professionals of all ages and backgrounds, striving to protect and improve the game of golf for the benefit of all 60 million golfers around the world. They are to be congratulated for this attempt to make the Rules significantly easier to understand and apply, whilst preserving the character of the game and the essential principles that have served players well for more than 270 years.

A good example of this is the outstanding work that has gone into preparing a comprehensive library of resources for easy access to everything surrounding the proposed new Rules. This includes explanatory narratives, diagrams, infographics, videos, Q&As, and the proposed new Rules book. They have even provided a recommended ‘Test Rules’ for use in an unofficial (i.e. non handicap counting) event. You can explore for yourself at these links;

R&A - http://www.randa.org/RulesModernisation

USGA - http://www.usga.org/rules-hub/rules-modernization.html

I strongly recommend that everyone with an interest in the future of golf delves into these comprehensive resources. Not only do they provide the precise, but much improved wording of the proposed changes, but also the reasoning behind them. Having done so, you are encouraged to take the 10 minutes survey, to ensure that your opinions are included in the feedback before the final changes are agreed and announced.

Good golfing,


 


Don’t forget that you can quiz yourself on the Rules, as they  exist for this year and next year, by purchasing my eBook, ‘999 More Questions on the Rules of Golf’. Click on this link for more information.

The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2017 and may not be copied without permission.

4 comments:

Fraser Nicol said...

Hi Barry, completely agree with your comments on the degree of effort that the R&A & USGA have put into the modernisation of the Rules. The level of support and resource available is superb.

Regards

Fraser Nicol

Tony Zendle said...

I agree with you on most things, and I certainly agree with you how the R&A/PGA have gone through the process.

However, by asking for feedback they have now opened pandoras box.

It will therefore be important that when the results of the feedback are known and the final decision is made on the new rules, that they tell us what the voting was. I would hate for them to implement a rule when people were only 50-50 on it

Anonymous said...

I don't believe that the final version will be based on "voting" - that is not the purpose of the feedback system. I do believe that the feedback will be considered and decisions made on what is best for our game.

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

I agree with you. There is no vote; golfers are being asked to provide feedback on which decisions will be made. In my (early) opinion, there are likely to be very few amandments, as the RBs have already gathered international opinions from many sources before arriving at this 7th draft.

Barry