New Golf Rules

Attention all golfers! Know your new rules 

By Gilbert Quitlong, WAC Golf Instructor

Did you know that the 2019 golf season brings major changes to the rules of golf? Golf’s governing bodies—the United States Golf Association (USGA) and The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews (R&A)have jointly created new rules with the goal of making the game more player-friendly, easier to understand, and improve the overall pace of play.

With a significant number of changes, there are now 24 rules and sub-categories, down from 34. Here are 3 examples of the new changes to the rules that could have the biggest impact on players at every levels:

1.) Leave the flagstick in the hole. (Rule 13.2)

Golf’s purists will have a hard time accepting this rule change. In the past, anytime a golf ball has reached the putting green and when putting the golf ball, the flagstick had to be removed or attended to in order to avoid a 2-stroke penalty or loss of hole depending on the playing format. The new rule allows the player to make a decision before putting; whether or not to remove the flagstick without any penalty.  We will likely see more golfers leaving the flagstick in to help increase their chances of having the golf ball go in the hole.

2.) Drop the ball from knee height. (Rule 14.3)

When you have to take a drop, whether it be for free relief or after hitting into a hazard and taking proper relief, the correct procedure now is to drop the golf ball from knee height. Knee height means the height of the player’s knee when in a standing position. Under the old procedure, a player stood erect, held the ball at arm’s length and shoulder height for the drop.

3.) Looking for a lost ball. (Rule 18.2)

This rule change is simply a change to help with the overall pace of play. All golfers now have a maximum of 3 minutes to search for their golf ball before it is deemed a lost ball, which is reduced from 5 minutes. The time of search still starts when the player or caddie begins to search. Once the search time has begun, there is no penalty if the ball is accidentally moved during the search by anyone including the player or caddie. To help with the pace of play, if after playing a shot if you think your ball may be lost (outside a hazard) or out of bounds you should play a provisional ball (when correctly following the procedure Rule 27.2). If the original ball is found within the 3 minutes, the provisional ball must be abandoned.

Join WAC Golf Instructor Gilbert Quitlong and Hagerty’s on Wednesday, April 10, at 6pm for a detailed look into the current changes to the rules of golf. Gilbert will be conducting a Q & A rules clinic to help kick off the 2019 WAC Golf Club season. If you are unable to attend the event on April 10, you can contact Gilbert for any questions or to schedule a golf lesson at You can also see him at Interbay Golf Center Tuesdays through Saturdays. He is eager to answer any questions or help you with your golf game. 

—Posted January 28, 2019

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