By Ian Davis, TGA Tournament Director
With several of this year’s TGA championships already
successfully concluded – and before the start of the busy summer season – it’s an
opportune moment to consider the aftereffects the new Rules have had on
From what we’ve witnessed in the first couple of months, the
consensus is that the new Rules have had an exceedingly positive impact on our
events. To give some perspective what the Championship Department has observed
and experienced so far, I’ll cover a few scenarios that have come up. Most
involved the key changes to the Rules, but there are some subtle changes, too,
that have been impactful.
In general, the changes have made the Rules easier to
understand and apply. They’ve also sped up play, which was one of the primary reasons
for the major revision.
The Pace-of-Play support written into the new Rules has had the
biggest impact in our events to date. The modifications to the Rules that reduced
the time allotted for searching for a lost ball from 5 minutes to 3 minutes, and
putting with the flagstick have been great time-savers. The speed of play has
improved on the greens, especially when players go with the flow in terms of
putting with or without the flagstick in the hole.
It’s also a benefit to everyone that terms such as “40
seconds” and “Ready Golf” have been added in the Rule book.
Some other key changes that affects players at all levels include
the simplification and the relaxation of the Rules. The change that gets all
the press is the new drop at knee height. The new procedure may look weird, but
it greatly simplifies things for players. There are fewer re-drops (which saves
time!), and drops from this height still include the randomness of putting a
ball into play.
Another important change is the relaxation of the Rules in
penalty areas. You can now move loose impediments, ground your club and take
practice swings (all of which are benefits to players). However, one of my
favorites is the relaxation of the Rules on the putting green. Long gone are
the days of blaming of spike marks for a missed putt.
Finally, there are some subtle changes worth noting when you
play your next round. “Relief Area” is a new term, which is where relief can be
taken under the Rules. The size of the Relief Area changes in certain
situations. For example, if you are taking lateral relief for an unplayable
lie, you get two club-lengths from the reference point. But, if you are taking back-on-the-line
relief for an unplayable lie, you only get one club-length from the reference
point. Also, there is an additional option for an unplayable lie in a bunker.
There still is some confusion about the new Rules, which is
to be expected since the changes are still in their infancy. The Rules of Golf
always will be complex because golf is an outdoor game that has many different
playing fields. However, the Rules of Golf are getting simpler and easier to understand,
and rounds are taking less time to complete. That’s good news for everyone!
As the year rolls on, the TGA Championship Department and
Rules Committee looks forward to assisting and clarifying the Rules of Golf for
For more information on the Rules, click here.