Last week the R&A and the USGA announced the publication of the latest edition of the Rules of Golf that takes effect on 1st January 2016. The new Rule book is the culmination of the normal four-year review cycle and is a collaborative work by The R&A and the USGA that applies worldwide to all golfers.
Full documentation on the new Rules can be found on the R&A website however the most significant of the changes in the 2016 edition of the Rules are as follows: –
Withdrawal of Rule on Ball Moving After Address
Rule 18-2b (Ball Moving After Address) has been withdrawn. This means that if a ball at rest moves after the player addresses it, the player is no longer automatically deemed to have caused the ball to move. A one-stroke penalty under Rule 18-2 will be applied only when the facts show that the player has caused the ball to move.
Limited Exception to Disqualification Penalty for Submission of Incorrect Score Card
A new exception has been introduced to Rule 6-6d (Wrong Score for Hole) to provide that a player is not disqualified for returning a lower score for a hole than actually taken as a result of failing to include penalty strokes that the player did not know were incurred before returning the score card. Instead, the player incurs the penalty under the Rule that was breached and must add an additional penalty of two strokes for the score card error. In all other cases in which a player returns a score for any hole lower than actually taken, the penalty will continue to be disqualification.
Modification of Penalty for a Single Impermissible Use of Artificial Devices or Equipment
The penalty for a player’s first breach of Rule 14-3 (Artificial Devices, Unusual Equipment and Abnormal Use of Equipment) during the round has been reduced from disqualification to loss of hole in match play or two strokes in stroke play. The penalty for any subsequent breach of Rule 14-3 will continue to be disqualification.
Prohibition on Anchoring the Club While Making a Stroke
As announced in May 2013, the new Rule 14-1b (Anchoring the Club) prohibits anchoring the club either “directly” or by use of an “anchor point” in making a stroke. The penalty is loss of hole in match play or two strokes in stroke play.
There is a separate R&A download which provides useful information for managers, committee members, referees and golfers alike to help them prepare for the implementation of this new Rule on 1st January 2016.