The new golf rules you need to know

Even though the new golf rules came into play on 1st January 2019, they’re still getting quite a lot of people in a pickle, including some pro golfers. If you’ve watched any recent tournaments you’ll have noticed most pros double checking with officials before taking their shots.

2019 has seen the biggest rule revision for over 60 years, with an aim to make the game both quicker and simpler. So with just a few weeks to go until the main season, it’s time to scrub up on the changes. Here are the new golf rules that you need to know:

Taking relief

  • Say goodbye to shoulder height drops where, let’s face it, you always ended up dropping at least three times. From now on you’ll need to drop your ball from knee height so there’s less chance of exceeding the two club length area. Basically, don’t do a Rory Mcilroy.
  • Use your driver (or longest club) to measure where to drop in from the relief area. This rule adjustment should allow you to get further away from any hazards than before. You can rejoice now.
  • If you’re dropping back-on-the-line (new term alert!) after a run in with a water hazard, choose your reference point and then drop your ball according to the new procedure. Et voila – a fairer and simpler approach than before.
  • All year round, on the fairway and in the rough you can now lift and place your ball if it becomes embedded through the green.

Penalties (or lack of!)

  • Golf is definitely getting less harsh going forward, you’ll no longer be penalised for moving your ball accidentally when you’re searching for it. Just replace it where it was and away you go!
  • Beginner golfers everywhere will breathe a sigh of relief at this one. (Drum rolls!) Penalties for your ball accidentally hitting you or your equipment have been abolished entirely.
  • If you catch your ball by mistake on your follow through, the new rule states that you won’t receive a penalty for a double hit (because everyone knows it’s easily done). This will only count as one stroke.
  • Take a leaf out of Bryson Dechambeau’s book and putt with the flagstick in if you like. That’s right, you can no longer be penalised for the ball striking the flagstick.
  • No worries if the wind moves your ball on the putting green or if you accidentally move your ball. Just replace and carry on penalty free!
  • Water hazards now count as penalty areas so you can do all of the following without receiving a penalty:
    • Take practice swings
    • Ground your club
    • Move leave and stones (loose impediments)
  • Are you an honest competitor? No really, are you? The new rule around taking relief from penalty areas relies on your truth telling skills. If you’re 95% sure that your ball is in the penalty area then you’re allowed to take replace your ball.


  • For two penalty strokes (there’s no getting off scot-free!) you can now wiggle your way out of an unplayable ball in the bunker, with a new option to drop outside of the bunker.
  • The new rules are pretty lenient when it comes to loose impediments. You’ll be allowed to move any leaves and stones out of the bunker before taking your shot going forward. But you’re still unable to touch the sand with your club in the area in front or behind the ball.

Other changes

  • Search time for missing balls has been cut down from five minutes to three minutes so get your skates on or accept that it wasn’t coming back anyway.
  • To speed things up a little it’s now recommended that you take 40 seconds or (hopefully!) less to make a stroke.
  • On the putting green, you can now repair where other players have walked. So get rid of those pesky spike marks and bits of shoe damage.

Now that you’ve wrapped your head around the new rules, why not come and put them in to practise on our Wike Ridge course?