IJGT Blog: New Rules to Start the New Year!

New Year, New Changes to the Rules of Golf for 2019

New rule changes announced by the R&A for 2019


Bluffton, SC: Effective on January 1, 2019, The R&A announced some significant changes to the Rules of Golf for the upcoming year. It has been a hot topic from all levels of the sport from the professional ranks all the way to the Junior level. So, with the Spring Season right around the corner, the IJGT Tournament Staff highlighted some of the bigger rule changes that will be in effect for 2019 and help better prepare players for their first competitive event.

  1. Drop from Knee height (not Shoulder Height)

One of the biggest changes to the Rules of Golf is players must take drops from Knee-height rather than from the Shoulder. As a few popular videos have shown recently, there are multiple ways to do this, but players must drop from Knee-height when putting the ball in play.

  1. Time to search – 3 minutes (Not 5 Minutes)

When searching for a Lost Ball, the allocated time to search is now 3 minutes dropping from 5 minutes. This encourages Pace of Play for you and your group’s round of competition.

  1. If you accidentally move your ball while searching for it, replace it without penalty

When searching for a Lost Ball, if you or anyone of your group happens to accidentally move the ball during the search, you may replace it as close as you can to the original spot without any penalty to you or your playing partner if they happen to have caused the movement.

  1. No penalty for a double hit; counts as one-stroke

When making a stroke on the golf ball, and a double-hit occurs? There is no longer a penalty and it will only count as One-Stroke (Rule 10.1a).

  1. No penalty if your ball strikes the flagstick when you have chosen to leave it in the hole

One of the newest rule changes for this year, and one both players and fans may have noticed at the most recent PGA Tour event, is that there will be no penalty when choosing to leave the flagstick in the hole (Rule 13.2).

  1. Ball accidentally is moved on the putting green; replace without penalty

If you or your opponent or another player in your group accidentally causes your ball to move on the putting green, you must replace your ball to its original spot. The exception of this rule, is that your ball must be played as it lies when it begins to move during your backswing or stroke and the stroke is made (Rule 13.1d).

  1. Ball marked, lifted and replaced on putting green is moved by wind to another position; replace the ball to the original spot

File this one under “crazy circumstance” but you truly never know! If wind or natural forces cause the ball to move after being replaced, place the ball to the original spot or as close as possible if unsure without penalty.

  1. Penalty areas now replace water hazards, and you are permitted to move loose impediments, ground your club and take practice swings in penalty areas without penalty

Another big rule change to benefit players is the changes made from water hazards to the now called penalty areas. Without penalty, players can now ground the club, move loose impediments and take practice swings in penalty areas (Rule 17.1).

  1. In bunkers, players may move loose impediments

Before playing your ball in a bunker, you are permitted to remove loose impediments under Rule 15.1 and moveable obstructions under Rule 15.2. This also includes any reasonable touching or movement of sand in the bunker.

  1. Free relief is allowed if your ball is embedded on the fairway or in the rough

Embedded means that part of your ball is below the level of the ground. Relief is allowed under Rule 16.3b only when a player’s ball is embedded in the General Area. Additionally, there is no relief under this rule if the ball is embedded anywhere except in the general area (Penalty Areas, and bunkers). Players are permitted to take a relief of one club-length, but must stay in the general are and must not be nearer the hole.

All of these changes and more can be explained in greater detail at www.randa.org. There is also a special Player’s Edition of the Rules of Golf, available at www.randa.org that we highly recommend to check out before your next competitive event.


Be sure to visit the Schedules tab at www.ijgt.com and sign-up for one of our many Spring Tournaments today!