The new rules of golf, everything you need to know before January 1, 2019

by Maura Hutchinson

In March 2017 golf’s governing bodies,  the USGA and R&A, released their proposal for what was the biggest review of the rules of golf since 1952. They then asked for our feedback and based on over 30,000 responses from more than 100 countries, last month they released The Player’s Edition of Rules of Golf.


This updated and modernised review looks to simplify what many found intimidating about taking up the game or continuing to play. The Player’s Edition is all about addressing these issues and presenting the rules of golf in a simple and easy-to-understand way. The rules have now been shrunk from 34 to 24 and 1200 decisions have been reduced to 300 interpretations.

For the first time ever the rules of golf will be available in both print and digital form. Hard copies of The Player’s Edition can be purchased from next month, but you can read it in its entirety now for free on the USGA or R&A websites, as well as access it through a handy app.


Aimed at not just players, but also administrators, referees and club committees, the new rules feature a more direct and simple writing style. A “Purpose of the Rule” section can be found at the top of each rule. Helping the reader to understand why the rule in question exists. So what are the major takeaways from the rules shakeup? And what do you need to know before hitting the course in 2019? Here’s a look at a few of the changes we think are pretty important:
  • You are now allowed to putt with the flag in
  • You can repair damage to your line of putt 
  • You will no longer be penalised for accidentally moving your ball on the green 
  • Extra relief option for an unplayable ball in a bunker 
  • You are no longer required to announce when you’re lifting a ball to identify or see if it’s damaged 
  • You are now allowed just 3 (instead of 5) minutes to locate a lost ball 
  • You have no more than 40 seconds to play a stroke

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