March Tip for Players: Play by the rules...the new ones!

That’s right, if you play by the new rules proposed by the USGA and the R&A, you might just find your group “playing a wee bit faster.”


Recent proposed rule changes have been designed specifically to improve the game by making it easier to understand the game and apply a more intuitive sounding rule, like the new Relaxed Dropping Procedure that states, “The only requirement is that you hold the ball above the ground without it touching any growing thing or other natural or artificial object, and let it go so that it falls through the air before coming to rest.” That seems pretty intuitive to me!


Other Rules, equally easy to understand, are also designed to improve the pace of play. Here are some good examples:


1. Reduced time for ball search – now only three minutes instead of five

2. Putting with the flagstick in – Shhh! Don’t tell the USGA

3. Your caddy can mark, lift and clean your ball – That’s good; he can lose his quarters

4. Use of red penalty areas are expanded to allow lateral relief

5. No longer allowed to take relief from a red penalty area from the side opposite from where your ball entered – Yay! No more walks around the lake into another fairway

6. Unplayable lie in a bunker? –  For two penalty strokes, you won’t have to break both wrists attempting to dislodge a ball buried under the lip of a bunker, nor do you even have to play it out of the bunker. Under the new rule, simply “take relief outside the bunker”

7. DMDs are legal! - Is that really faster than estimating your distance by looking at the 150 yard bushes (which to me is good enough if you can’t actually hit a 7 iron exactly 154 yards anyway)?

8. Play promptly, “no more than 40 seconds” – And play when it’s your turn.The new rules also “affirmatively encourage” playing “ready golf” when it is safe to do so. – Thank you, USGA and R&A! That really will make a difference (as long as you don't try to "keep up with the group in front of you." Next month I'll explain why that's one of my biggest pace of play no-no's)

9. Finally, for those of us who are not slow players, just more frequent swingers of the clubs, our “score is capped at a maximum (such as double or triple bogey),” so that we can pick up and move on without shame or embarrassment


All kidding aside, I really am proud of the governing bodies for adjusting the rules to better fit the style and tempo of today’s culture. Well done! For details click here.


Tip by Bill Yates, Pace Manager Systems


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