2019 Changes to USGA Rules of Golf

The USGA has made a lot of great changes to the rules of golf which will take effect January 1st, 2019. According to Thomas Pagel, senior managing director, Governance for the USGA, the aim is to make the rules easier to comprehend and to improve the future of the game. He said “From the project’s inception, our one goal was to make the Rules easier to understand and apply for all golfers. It sets a new standard in the way we write and interpret the Rules and is central to our efforts to ensure a healthy future for golf.”

Here is a list of the significant rule changes:

  • Penalty drops will now be made from knee height, rather than shoulder height
  • No penalty for an accidental double hit
  • A club damaged during a round can continue to be used, even if you damaged it in anger.
  • No penalty if your ball played from the putting green (or anywhere else) hits the unattended flagstick in the hole.
  • No penalty for accidentally moving your ball or ball-marker on the putting green
  • No penalty for accidentally moving your ball during a search
  • Relief allowed without penalty for an embedded ball anywhere (except in sand) in the “general area” (a new term for “through the green”).
  • Your ball is lost if not found in three minutes (rather than the current 5 minutes)
  • The use of distance measuring devices will be allowed unless a Local Rule has been adopted prohibiting their use.