New year, new rules

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Complaints. Praise. Confusion. Plaudits.

We've all had it in the first two weeks of the new Rules of Golf.

And as everyone in the Gulf Australia regulatory department will confirm, there is no shortage of feedback on the modernization process that was implemented on 1 January.

But overall the response was positive because it helped speed up the game.

So let's start with the nuts and bolts of the changes …

The authority of the Regulations kept the following two principles at the heart of change:

Play the ball while it is lying AND play the course as you find it

Find solutions to speed up the game

While the Australian golf community has generally embraced the changes with open arms, there has been some confusion about what is right and wrong on the golf course. Here is our broad view on some of the most current issues …


Many groups find that they have different views on whether to keep the flagstick in the hole. Although this change was meant to speed up the game and works well in most cases, there are times when several players within a group want to leave the flag or remove it, and this also depends on the length of the putt. That is why we advise golfers to be alert to the needs of others.

Knee height Drop

The biggest "usual" change most players have found is dropping the ball from the knee height. Many have wondered why the initial drop height of "just above the ground" was not taken over, or why it is not "knee height or higher". For the former, the reaction is that it would not favor that game to see people who are trying to drop their ball from a height so close to the ground that they seem to be placed; for the latter, the reaction is that dropping a higher than knee height may increase the chance of a re-drop due to a larger bounce, slowing down the process. Knee height is meant to reduce the amount of drops needed to keep the ball in the stool area.

Penalty fields

Not only have they gone through a name change, you can now also earth your club and move loose obstacles while you are inside. This was a very welcome change for those who were new to the game, but it was a bit more difficult to get used to the more educated, because they are finally able to treat themselves to once forbidden fruit, but still in the mindset who might not be morally good. Breathe quietly, everything is fine!


"How do you mean that I can move loose obstacles in a bunker, but that I can not ground my club when I aim the ball?" This caused the most confusion, because many had heard that the restriction on the grounding of your club had been lifted. This is not the case, but it has come off. You will only be penalized if you grind your club right in front of or right behind the ball, or in a backswing or practice swing. Testing remains a no-no

Players are drafted

A small change that does not affect 99 percent of the club members, because this only applies to people with a caddy. However, we have had many questions about players who play each other in an ambrosial format (also called scramble), which according to the Rules of Golf is also not allowed.

Local rules for a ball out of range or lost

Lost a ball? just drop one where you think it was lost and play for the cost of two strokes. Sounds good, but remember that it is a local rule. We have seen that this local rule got some more grip (E-5 alternative for stroke and distance for lost ball or ball outside the limits). Many clubs have decided to take this local rule immediately for all their competitions, others allow them to be used for everyday competitions, but not for "board events". Most clubs are on the lookout to see how the golfing public reacts and what comes from it. We applaud those clubs that have acted so quickly.

How can GA help?

Golf Australia has been able to make a major impact on clubland and maintain clubs by providing a web page full of useful resources, including easy-to-view and understandable video, plus a PowerPoint presentation at the R & A club level. can help design club club rules for 2019. Game management and regulations senior manager Simon Magdulski encourages more golf clubs to use the available services to ensure that their members and guests are well informed and can continue playing of this great game, in whatever form it could take.

If you have a question, or want to have your local rules reconfigured for 2019, please send an e-mail directly to

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