Anyone who takes the game of golf seriously has questioned a rule of golf at one time or another. Some of the rules certainly seem strange, but let’s be fair about this. The rules of golf evolved over many years and are designed to be uniform and consistent. Actually the R&A (Royal & Ancient Golf Club) published the first rules in 1744. Having said that, there are many rules that seem to scream for a change the USGA (United States Golf Association) and the R&A are well aware of the issue and have actually made some rule changes in the recent years.
Now the two governing bodies of golf have joined forces and want to overhaul the rules of golf. The two groups announced on February 28 a proposal to make sweeping changes to a complicated rule system. First and foremost, the intent is to simplify the game, make it more fun, and make it faster!
Stop right there. We, at Two Guys With Balls, heartily agree with this thinking. Simpler, more enjoyable golf is better golf. We urge every golfer to read everything available on this subject. If you play tournament golf, you really need to pay attention.
Of course, there will be debate. “Why change the rules?” Or “they are changing the wrong rules.” Still, the initial responses that we have seen are very favorable towards the idea.
The strongest statement that we read came from PGA tour player, Kevin Kisner. Word for word, he said “Anything that makes the game faster and more fun and less difficult, I’m all for. That’s the problem with the game. The game is going to die because it’s too slow, too difficult, and there are too many rules. Our generation wants to instant everything. You can pull out a phone and Google anything, but you have to pull out a rule book that’s got 700 pages to figure out what rule infraction you broke.”
Quite a statement. He’s on to something. The game will be better if it is less complicated.
So, what are the proposed changes? You’ll have to do some reading, but let’s take a quick look at several of the more interesting ideas. It’s no surprise that most of these are in the “silly rule” category.
- There is a one stroke penalty if you move your ball or ball marker by accident on the putting green. This silly rule would go away.
- Presently, a player must drop their ball from shoulder height only when making a drop. GONE! Drop it from any height as long as the ball hits nothing on the way to the ground.
- Today, you will have five minutes to look for your ball and then it is a “lost ball”. The new rule would be that you only get three minutes.
- A player is not allowed to repair damage on putting green, such as shoe spike marks or animal damage etc. Very silly indeed. This rule would also go away.
There are plenty more but one thing is clear. Much of this is common sense. Actually, Ian Poulter, another tour player, tweeted the common notion recently.
Some of you are no doubt screaming that you already do much of this when you play with your friends. Well, so do we. Unfortunately, if you play any tournament golf, many of these silly rules are a nightmare. Raise your hand if an opponent has questioned a ball drop, accused you of (heaven forbid) fixing a spike mark, or really believed that you caused your ball to move. Enough already.
Should this ship sail all the way through, there would be ample time for comment, discussion, and adjustments. A new set of rules would most likely go into effect in early 2019. Can’t wait.
Yes, we know; there was no mention of bunker rules. Well, that is a subject all by itself and deserves a few moments of our time. Pay attention, George. If approved, you can move loose impediments in a bunker, and you can even touch the sand with your hand or a club. Two Guys With Balls (and probably Ian Poulter) will love this. It’s common sense to the max.
Now, you can’t tee it up in the bunker and the proposed change will still leave you shaking in your shoes as you hit your bunker shot. You won’t be able to set the club down behind the ball. There will be plenty of challenge left in hitting a quality bunker shot. That’s one more very sound idea in rule changes.
We at Two Guys With Balls play a lot of golf and have a healthy respect for the rules. There are many golfers who already play common sense golf and have adopted many of these changes on their own. So, we find it refreshing that the governing bodies of this great game understand what needs to be done to keep it healthy. Embrace the changes!
Got any comments or questions on the new rules, let us know in the comments below!
Kent Evans is a passionate golfer and Sr Golf Writer at Two Guys with Balls. Kent blogs about various golf topics that interest him.