March 05, 2017: Golf is on the move and the R&A and USGA might have served to catalyse its growth. The custodians of golf have done just right in deciding to revisit the rules of the game. The simplification of some of the vexing rules of the game and an effort to speed it up could spur golf forward.
The most talked about proposal relates to Rule 18-2, now being termed the “DJ Decision.” Readers will remember that DJ was assessed a penalty under the rule at the US Open last year. Dustin Johnson’s ball moved on the green, even as he was shaping to putt at the 5th hole. It was a marginal moment that caused a slight movement leading to a massive uproar. The proposed change allows golfers to replace the ball in its spot in the event of an accidental shift of the ball on the green.
“I mean, obviously some of the rule changes I think are really good,” Johnson said. “Especially the ball on the putting green when you don’t feel like you caused it to move and you’re still getting a penalty, that to me makes no sense. So I think some of the rule changes are good. Obviously they’re trying to simplify the rules a little bit just so there’s not so much confusion.
“Some of them are complicated. I’ve been on Tour for 10 years now and I still have to call a rules official over sometimes when I’m taking relief from something just because some of them are complicated, yes.”
Another change pertaining to the greens is a golfer’s right to fix spike marks caused by other players ahead of them.
You will also have only three minutes to hunt for your ball in the bushes instead of five. That should help speed up play and avoid seemingly interminable search missions for a ball lying in the deep rough around the courses.
No more shoulder height drops of the ball is the other welcome change. Golfers can drop from just an inch off the ground, meaning better lies for copping the penalty. That should help produce better scores and happier scrambling golfers.
Overall though, it is good to see the tight fisted R&A and USGA think ahead with an uncomplicated mindset. The revised rules are proposed to be “modern, plain style that uses more common words, shorter sentences and explanatory headings and that ends the use of male-only references.”
The new rules are expected to take effect on the 01st January 2019.