Just this week the United States Golf Association and the R&A, golf’s governing body, announced the publication of the 2016 edition of the Rules of Golf, which take effect on January 1st, 2016. The new rule book is the culmination of the normal four-year review cycle and is a collaborative work by the R&A and the USGA that applies worldwide to all golfers.
Among the most significant of the changes in the 2016 edition of the Rules are the following:
- Withdrawal of Rule on Ball Moving After Address - Rule 18-2b (Ball Moving after Address) has been withdrawn. This means that if a ball at rest moves after the player addresses it, the player is no longer automatically deemed to have caused the ball to move. A one-stroke penalty under Rule 18-2 will be applied only when the facts show that the player has caused the ball to move.
- Limited Exception to Disqualification Penalty for Submission of Incorrect Score Card - A new exception has been introduced to Rule 6-6d (Wrong Score for Hole) to provide that a player is not disqualified for returning a lower score for a hole than actually taken as a result of failing to include penalty strokes that the player did not know were incurred before returning the score card. Instead, the player incurs the penalty under the Rule that was breached and must add an additional penalty of two strokes for the score card error. In all other cases in which a player returns a score for any hole lower than actually taken, the penalty will continue to be disqualification.
- Modification of Penalty for a Single Impermissible Use of Artificial Devices or Equipment - The penalty for a player’s first breach of Rule 14-3 (Artificial Devices, Unusual Equipment and Abnormal Use of Equipment) during the round has been reduced from disqualification to loss of hole in match play or two strokes in stroke play. The penalty for any subsequent breach of Rule 14-3 will continue to be disqualification.
- Prohibition on Anchoring the Club While Making a Stroke - As announced in May 2013, the new Rule 14-1b (Anchoring the Club) prohibits anchoring the club either “directly” or by use of an “anchor point” in making a stroke. The penalty is loss of hole in match play or two strokes in stroke play.
“The objective with each four-year cycle of the Rules is to monitor developments in the game and, when appropriate, to respond with changes that keep the best interests of the game in mind.” Said Senior Director of Rules of Golf at the USGA, Thomas Pagel. “The amendments for 2016 preserve and enhance the essential principles of the Rules, while at the same time ensuring that they reflect the evolution of the game.”
David Rickman, executive director – Rules and Equipment Standards at The R&A, said, “We continually look at ways we can improve and clarify the Rules of Golf. The R&A and the USGA collaborate closely and we consult with our respective national and international advisory members to produce a code of Rules that is relevant to all golfers around the world.”
Printed copies of the Rules of Golf, which are supported by Rolex, are now available from the USGA and The R&A. More detailed information on recent changes and the complete Rules of Golf can also be found at usga.org via this link and randa.org.