The USGA and R&A have collaborated to shrink the official golf rule book from 34 rules to 24, while also applying some common sense to rules that have received a lot of scrutiny in recent years.
Players at all levels will now be required to drop the ball from knee height, whether they are taking a penalty or free drop, in an adjustment to original proposals released previous year which recommended the ball could be dropped from any height.
The USGA and Royal & Ancient game took to doing a massive overhaul to the golf rulebook in order to make some rules simpler and easier to understand. Golfers can take relief using the longest club in their bag, barring the putter.
Removing the penalty for a double hit: The penalty stroke for accidentally striking the ball a couple of times in the course of a stroke has been removed.
What are your thoughts on the new rules set to come into play in 2019? Starting next year, a local rule will let golfers simply drop a ball that goes out-of-bounds in the vicinity of where it went out - even if that means the fairway - with an additional two-shot penalty. There no longer will be penalties if a golf ball accidentally moves on the green, if a club touches the ground in a hazard or if the ball hits a flagstick that is not being tended on the green. "We couldn't be more excited to introduce the new Rules ahead of their education and implementation".
However, this rule will not apply in professional or elite-level competitions.
Relaxed putting green rules: There will be no penalty if a ball played from the putting green hits an unattended flagstick in the hole; players may putt without having the flagstick attended or removed.
'We are pleased to be introducing the new Rules of Golf after a collaborative and wide-ranging review process which has embraced the views of golfers, rules experts and administrators worldwide, ' said David Rickman, executive director - governance at the R&A. One of them involves allowing golfers to fix spike marks in their putting line.
One of the underlying principles of the new rules is that golfers should not be penalised for unintentional acts that result in no benefit to them. Expanded use of red penalty areas where lateral relief is allowed, and there will be no penalty for moving loose impediments or touching the ground or water in a penalty area.
The Player's Edition of the Rules of Golf: An abridged, user-friendly set of the Rules with shorter sentences, commonly used phrases, and diagrams.
As well as that, golfers can move loose impediments in bunkers and will not be penalised for generally grounding their club away from their ball.
Player integrity will be relied on to the point where a player's "reasonable judgement" will be trusted on things like estimating/measuring a spot, point, line, area or distance.
The search time for lost balls has been reduced from five to three minutes and "ready golf" in stroke play is to be encouraged.