9 New USGA Rule Changes in Effect Now

One of the things that cause fear and worry for a player on the golf course is when they are in a penalty situation and they don’t know the rules. For the past four years the USGA has worked with the R&A to review and refine 9 of the 34 principal rules. The changes for golfers around the world went into effect on January 1, 2012. Other changes include many decisions on the rules and the rules of amateur status that can be found on the USGA website at www.usga.org

Since interpretation of the rules can become complicated, I have simplified the changes for you which include: 

#1. Rule 18-2b  The Wind Rule

If you address the ball, and a gust of wind moves it, you are no longer penalized. You play the ball from the new position. Previously you had to replace the ball or incur a one stroke penalty. 

#2. Definitions.  Addressing the Ball

The Definition is amended so that regardless of whether or not you have taken your stance, you have been deemed to address the ball simply by grounding your club immediately in front of or behind the ball. Previously addressing the ball included taking your stance.

#3. Rule 6-3a  Time of Starting

If you tee off five minutes before or after your scheduled tee time, you will be penalized two strokes in stroke play, or loss of the first hole in match play. Previously the penalty was disqualification from the tournament. 

#4. Rule 12-1, 18-2a   Moving the Ball

            When you are searching for your ball and you accidentally move it because it is covered by sand, there is no penalty. However, if you move your ball in a hazard when it is covered by loose impediments, you are penalized one stroke. 

#5. Rule 20-7c  Playing from the Wrong Place

Unless you breach another rule, if you accidentally play from the wrong place, your penalty will be limited to two strokes in stroke play.

#6. Rule 13-4   Smoothing Sand in a Bunker

You are now permitted to smooth the sand in a bunker and remove a loose impediment in the process before your first shot if it is your sole purpose to take care of the course. However, you will be penalized for testing the sand, improving your stance or lie, or improving your intended swing or line of play. Rule 13-2. 

#7. Rule 13-2   Altering the Golf Course

If you intentionally take an action that alters the physical conditions affecting the movement of your ball, you are in violation of Rule 1-2. Accidentally knocking a leaf loose on your practice swing of the golf course is not a penalty unless it creates an advantage for you. 

#8. Rule 16-1b   Lifting  the Ball on the Putting Green

If there is a chance your ball could be struck by another ball, you may not lift your ball on the putting green when the other ball is in motion. This is an addition to the previous rule. 

#9. Decision 26.1  Certainty of Ball in Water Hazard

If you are certain that your ball has gone into a water hazard, you can proceed under the water hazard options without having to inspect the hazard to see your ball. 

Did this article help your understanding of the new rule changes? If this information is helpful for your mental golf game,  please Leave a Reply below.

To improve your mental golf game, call Joan for a complimentary 15-minute consultation. She can be reached by phone at 828.696.2547,  or through the Positive Mental Imagery website at www.pmi4.com




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