There’s a raft of changes and opinions are mixed across the golfing world, but Cowra’s golfers are fairly happy with new rules introduced at the start of 2019.
Developed over a seven year period, the rule changes, signed off by the R&A and US Golfing Association (USGA) after a consultation period in 2018, aim to speed up play and simplify penalty processes, and has enormous implications not only for the country’s elite golfer but also your average Saturday afternoon amateur.
Key changes made after the consultation period include the following:
- Dropping procedure: When taking relief golfers will now drop from knee height.
- Measuring relief area: The player will use the longest club in their bag to measure one or two lengths as the situation requires.
- Double stroke penalty removed: There is no longer a penalty for accidentally hitting the ball twice in the course of a stroke.
- New Local Rule: If a ball is lost, local players are able to take a two-stroke penalty and drop the ball in the vicinity of where it was hit. This isn’t designed to replicated at professional level, but does guarantee that locals can move along faster.
- Speed: Players now only have three minutes to find lost balls instead of five, while players are encouraged to take around 40 seconds to play their stroke.
Current regulations have also been reduced, with a relaxation of “ball moved” penalties, putting green rules, “penalty areas” (formerly called “water hazards”) and bunker area rules.
Cowra Golf Club captain Terry Johns and trainee professional Kane Brooks are both broadly supportive of the new rules, and say that local golfers have much to gain from the new adjustments.
“Golf has too many technical rules, and I reckon 90 per cent of player wouldn’t know 10 per cent of the rules,” Johns said.
“An easy attempt has been made, and I think a good attempt, to simplify things and break it down for a lot of people.”
Brooks added that it will definitely improve speed, but did caution that it might take people some time to adapt.
“[It] definitely will speed up the play and keep play pretty upbeat,” Brooks said.
“A lot of them [the rules] are a bit confusing... it will take a while to get used to.”
However, both players were happy with the end of penalties for the removal of impediments in bunker areas, including objects like sticks, stones and leaves.
“A lot of players don't want to hit a rock with $200 stick, they just want to be in the sand and hitting the golf ball itself, and that’s a simple, easy little [rule change],” Johns said.
“It’s just series of simple things that will make it a lot easier.”
However, Johns does see some room to simplify things further.
“There are literally hundreds and hundreds of rules, and the easier they can make it for the general public to understand them... the better it’s going to be,” Johns said, adding that current changes are a good start.
However, Brooks is more comfortable with the current status quo.
“The game’s in a pretty good spot at the moment and they’ve got it up to date,” Brooks said.