USGA, R&A poised to revise Rules of Golf
In a nutshell
Rules of Amateur Status, nine playing rules to be revised
he United States Golf Associa-
tion and the Royal and Ancient
Golf Club of St. Andrews announced
on Oct. 24 the publication of the
new Rules of Golf for 2012-15.
Changes in the rules – which for
the first time have been designed,
published and presented jointly by
golf’s governing bodies – include
exonerating a player from penalty if
it is known his or her ball was moved
by the wind after address.
Following an exhaustive, four-year
review of golf’s 34 playing rules, nine
principal rules have been amended.
The Rules of Amateur Status have
also been updated.
Significant changes include:
Ball Moving After Address
A new exception is added which
exonerates the player from penalty if
his or her ball moves after it has
been addressed when it is known or
virtually certain that the player did
not cause the ball to move. For example, if it is a gust of wind that
moves the ball after it has been addressed, there is no penalty and the
ball is played from its new position.
my putter, distracting me from trying
to hole my putt.”
There has been a unified code of
golf since 1952, but until now the
R&A and the USGA have published
the same rules in separate editions,
thereby giving the impression to
some that the rules were different.
However, this year sees identical
publications with only some
spellings and respective logos
Golfing legend Arnold Palmer
welcomed the announcement of a
jointly published edition of the rules.
He said: “What has happened with
the R&A and the USGA is wonderful.
In the years I have been associated
with the game and got to know the
R&A and what their efforts are and
having lived with the USGA all my
life, one of the things I have always
thought is we should be closer
Ball in Hazard; Prohibited Actions
Exception 2 to this Rule is
amended to permit a player to
smooth sand or soil in a hazard at
any time, including before playing
from that hazard, provided it is for
the sole purpose of caring for the
course and Rule 13-2 (improving lie,
area of intended stance or swing or
line of play) is not breached.
Time of Starting (Rule 6-3a)
The rule is amended to provide
that the penalty for starting late, but
within five minutes of the starting
time, is reduced from disqualification
to loss of the first hole in match play
or two strokes at the first hole in
stroke play. Previously this penalty
reduction could be introduced as a
condition of competition.
USGA Senior Director of Rules of
Golf Thomas Pagel said: “We have
produced a unified code of the
Rules of Golf for 60 years and
although the context has been the
same, we often found the perception
that there were different rules in
place depending upon where you
were to play the game.
“Now the book will not only have
the same content, but it will also be
presented in a uniform fashion with
similar formatting and covers; this
will truly be a single code governing
the rules of the game that reflects
the strong collaboration between
the R&A and USGA.”
The most significant change (Rule
18-12b) will see an end to situations
like the one witnessed during the
final round of this year’s Open
Championship when Rory McIlroy
was penalized when his ball was
moved on the seventh green by the
wind after he had addressed it.
Padraig Harrington, three-time
major winner and R&A Working for
Golf Ambassador, said: “I am delighted with the changes, in particular the ball moving after address.
Every time the wind blows I am worried that my ball is going to move
and I am worried about grounding
>The Rules of Golf
contain 34 playing
rules, nine of which
have been updated
for 2012-15. The
Rules of Amateur
Status have also
>The new Rules of
Golf take effect on
Jan. 1, 2012.
>The USGA will
publish two million
copies of the Rules of
Golf. The publication
is printed under
license in 36
>Companion publication, “Decisions on
the Rules of Golf
2012-2015” will be
printed in November.
>For the first time, the
USGA and R&A are
Rules of Golf publications.