10 Major Rule Changes That Could Be Coming to Golf

Accidentally bump your ball? No problem
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 1, 2017 8:44 AM CST
10 Major Rule Changes That Could Be Coming to Golf
Hudson Swafford putts on the 17th hole of the Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course at PGA West on Jan. 20, 2017.   (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

The process of getting a tiny white ball into a tiny round hole has become too complicated, according to international golf authorities, who are proposing sweeping new changes to simplify the game. The United States Golf Association and Royal & Ancient Golf Club are suggesting cutting the 34 rules of golf down to 24, though golfers will have time to give their input before the changes go into effect in 2019. "The guiding principle for everything we propose is that it should be easier to understand and put in play," USGA's senior managing director of rules tells Golf Digest. The most notable suggestions:

  • Players can putt with the flag in the cup at the recreational level, per Golf Channel
  • The 1-stroke penalty for players who accidentally move a ball or ball marker will be removed, per Fox Sports
  • Players will be allowed to search for their ball for just three minutes, down from five
  • Touching the ground with a club will be allowed, except in a bunker
  • A caddie can no longer stand behind a player while the player is setting up or making a stroke
  • Players are advised to take no more than 40 seconds to make a stroke
  • Instead of only fixing ball marks, players can repair any damage on greens
  • Players can take a two-stroke penalty for an unplayable shot in a bunker, per Reuters
  • Players can drop a ball at any height above one inch off the ground, rather than from shoulder height
  • Rangefinders can be used, unless a local rule prohibits them
See all of the proposed changes here. (More golf stories.)

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