It’s time to familiarize yourself with the New Rules of Golf. The USGA and The R&A are trying to simplify the rules and speed up the game. One rule that they forgot to include is that at the start of every game, the players should agree to play ready golf. If you reach your ball anywhere off the green and you are ready to take your shot before others are ready, then just take your shot, as long as other are out of the way.
This is an abbreviated version of the 15 rule changes. Why not print them out and keep them in your bag in the event of any disputes. [The official rules are about 20 pages long but the following summary will cover 95% of your concerns.]
1/ To speed up play, you have the option to leave the flagstick in the hole.
2/ Fix any imperfection or loose impediment on the green (including spike marks).
3/ Accidental movement of the ball is no longer a penalty. Just put it back.
4/ Bunker: You can remove loose impediments but if you move the ball it’s 1 stroke penalty.
5/ Imbedded Ball in a Bunker: you can move the ball back or out of the trap (1 stroke)
6/ Yellow Penalty Area (stream or canyon): drop ball back on a line to the green (1 stroke). Red Penalty Area (woods and water): Drop 2 club lengths from point of entry (1 stroke).
7/ Search a maximum of 3 minutes for a ball. If ball is stepped on or picked up, just replace it.
8/ Out of Bounds or Lost Ball: Stroke and distance penalty or 2 stroke penalty at point of loss.
9/ Putting a ball back in play: Use your longest club (excludes putter) & drop from knee height.
10/ Using a scope to measure distance is allowed.
11/ A bent or broken club CAN be used but it CAN’T BE REPLACED.
12/ You are allowed to replace a cut or broken ball if it is damaged during play.
13/ You can replace your ball with a new ball at the start of every hole.
14/ During a continuous swing you are allowed to hit the ball twice and count only 1 stroke.
15/ You can accidentally hit yourself or others with a ball. No penalty. [But you can’t intentionally ricochet a ball off an object and then hit yourself (1 stroke penalty).]
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