USGA, R&A Propose Rule Changes

Release information from the USGA

March 1, 2017 - The USGA and R&A have announced a major set of proposed changes to the Rules of Golf. These changes result from their Rules Modernization initiative that began five years ago in an effort to bring the Rules up to date to fit the needs of the game today globally.

Related: USGA Rules Modernization Homepage

The initiative had two guiding themes:

  • Even far-reaching Rule changes should be open for discussion, but golf's essential principles and character must be preserved.
  • Revisions should be assessed with all golfers in mind, so that the Rules are easier to understand and apply not only for professionals and elite amateurs, but also for beginners, high-handicappers and typical club and recreational golfers at all levels of play around the world.

Golf's governing bodies hope that the proposed changes will be a major step forward in pursuing the following goals and objectives:

Overall Goals. We want the Rules of Golf to:

  • Be more easily understood and applied by all golfers;
  • Be more consistent, simple and fair; and
  • Reinforce the game's longstanding principles and character.

Specific Objectives for Revising the Substance of the Rules. We want the new Rules to:

  • Use concepts, procedures and outcomes that are more intuitive and easier to learn;
  • Use a consistent approach for similar situations;
  • Avoid unnecessary concepts and exceptions that may create "penalty traps" for the player; and
  • Support broader objectives for the game, such as pace of play and environmental stewardship.

Specific Objectives for How the Rules are Presented. We want the revised Rules materials to:

  • Be written in a modern, plain style that uses more common words, shorter sentences and explanatory headings, and that ends the use of male-only references;
  • Be made easier to translate into other languages;
  • Make greater use of visual aids such as graphics, photos, and videos;
  • Clarify the purposes and principles underlying each of the main Rules;
  • Include a version of the Rules that is written from the player's perspective and focuses on what the typical golfer needs to know; and
  • Use technology to make it easier to search and review the Rules, both on and off the course.

Given the scope of this initiative, the USGA and R&A want golfers and others in the golf community to have a chance to provide feedback. You're encouraged to review the proposed changes, try them out on the course over the next few months and share your thoughts. The USGA and R&A will consider all input as they continue work to finish the new Rules by early 2018. They are planned to be put into effect on January 1, 2019.

For FAQs, resources, complete details on proposed new Rules, and information for providing feedback, visit the USGA's Rules Modernization Homepage.

 

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