Anyone planning on enjoying a rousing game of competitive golf in the near future would perhaps be most wise indeed to make sure they’re familiar with the new Rules of Golf that have been set out by the R&A in St Andrews and the US Golf Association (USGA).
The rules came into effect on January 1st after the two organisations worked tirelessly for seven years to modernise the game, starting the process way back in 2012. The project began to make sure that the rules were easier to understand and applicable to all those playing the game, as well as making golf as attractive and accessible as possible for newcomers.
Make sure you browse the R&A website fully to really get to grips with the rules so you know what to expect and so there aren’t any annoying surprises when you do next take to the fairway to hit a few rounds.
Rule 1, which relates to the game and player conduct, introduces a set of central principals for the player: playing the course as you find it and playing the ball as it lies, playing by the rules and in the spirit of the game, and the player being responsible for applying their own penalties for a rule breach so as to avoid gaining possible advantage over opponents in match play or others in stroke play.
Rule 2, meanwhile, relates to the course, introducing the basic aspects of it that every player should know. This includes knowing that there are five defined areas of the course and that there are several types of defined objects and conditions that could potentially interfere with play.
As for Rule 3, this relates to the three central elements of all golf competitions: playing either stroke or match play, playing either as an individual or with someone else as part of a side, and scoring either by gross scores (no handicap strokes applied) or net scores (with handicap strokes applied).
Rule 4 relates to the equipment that you can use during rounds of golf, requiring you to use conforming clubs and balls, and that you’re limited to no more than 14 clubs and typically that you must not replace damaged or lost clubs. You are also restricted in the use of equipment that will give your play artificial help.
Rule 5 covers how to play a round, including where and when you may practise on the course before or during a round, when the round starts and ends, and what happens when play has to stop or resume.
Of course, this is just a very quick look at the new rules and it might be a good idea to delve a little deeper so that you’re properly prepared the next time you find yourself on the green.
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