Every four years there are changes in the rules of golf. The upcoming changes are the most in 30 years. There are 34 proposed rules that the United States Golf Association is looking at, and they want your comments. You can contact them by visiting www.USGA.org.
The USGA will finalize 24 rules in March 2018, and they will be put into effect in Jan. 2019.
Here are 13 of the proposed rules that I think will affect the game and help the pace of play and make the game more enjoyable.
Player accidently moves ball. If when searching for a ball you accidently move it, or when on the green you move a ball or ball marker, there will be no penalty.
Search time. You will now have only three minutes to search for a lost ball.
Playing with a damaged club. You may continue playing with a damaged club, even if you damaged it in anger.
Pace of play. The new rule recommends that players make a stroke in 40 seconds or less.
New putting green rules. No penalty if a ball played from the putting green hits an unattended flagstick in the hole. Therefore, you can now putt with the flagstick in the hole.
Repair on the putting green. You can repair spike marks and animal damage on the putting green.
Bunker. You can remove loose impediments that are in the bunker.
Ball drop. You can now drop the ball from just above the ground instead of at shoulder height.
Use of distance measuring devices (binoculars). You are allowed to use these devices in regular play and tournaments unless a local rule prohibits them.
Loose impediments. You can move loose impediments and touch the ground with your hand or club in a hazard.
New ball. You can substitute a new ball when taking relief from hazards.
Earphones. You are allowed to listen to music, watch a sporting event or news broadcast as long as it doesn’t give you an advantage when playing a stroke.
I am excited about the new proposed changes and can’t wait till they take effect. I think they will make the game more fun.
Dr. Jean Harris is an LPGA Master Professional and teaches at local courses. firstname.lastname@example.org; www.golfdoctorjean.com