Some interesting changes proposed to golf’s rules

By Paul Gueorgieff
Editor, Golfer Pacific NZ
Still coming to grips with some of the proposed changes to the rules of golf?
Yes, so am I.
But following is some of my initial thoughts on the recommended changes.
The first is that there will be no penalty for the ball hitting an unattended flagstick while putting. I find this very interesting.
Would you putt with an unattended flagstick remaining in the hole? I would probably do so for a long putt but probably not for a shortish putt. Do I have a problem with such a new rule? No.
Now, from the interesting to, perhaps, the more controversial.
It is proposed when taking relief you can drop the ball from any height. This means you could crouch down, hold the ball one centimetre above a nice tuft of grass and let the ball go.
This seems a little ridiculous to me. You might as well allow placing. If you are not going to allow placing then I am happy to continue with dropping the ball with the arm raised to shoulder height. It’s either one or the other in my book.
Another proposed change is one that is my pet hate. You see it mainly in women’s professional golf where the caddy stands behind the player to ensure she is aiming correctly.
The recommended change is that this will not be allowed on the putting green. Hooray, I say. This recommendation gets a big, big tick.
Another change being suggested is the ability to remove a loose impediment in the bunker, like a leaf or a twig. I think I agree with this one.
Talking of bunkers another suggestion is that you can take a two-stroke penalty to obtain relief outside a bunker on a line from the hole through where the ball was at rest in the sand. Currently the only penalty relief you can take outside a bunker is to play from where your last stroke was made.
This makes sense if you have an horrendous lie that could involve several shots in clearing the bunker. I put this recommendation in the good ideas basket.
One recommendation I don’t agree with is not having to inform your marker that you wish to lift your ball to identify it. This procedure will lead to players cheating by placing the ball back on a nice piece of grass. I say no, no, no to this recommendation.
Another interesting change is that the time limit to look for a ball be reduced from five to three minutes. My golf course is usually very lush and sometimes looking for a ball in the first cut of rough can easily take three minutes, especially if there is lots of leaves lying about.
There are many more recommendations which can be viewed on the R&A website. And a reminder that the R&A is seeking comment on the proposed changes. Make sure you do so if you have some strong views or even email myself at and we’ll publish them. But please keep comments reasonably brief.

Sarah HeadComment