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USGA Changes

With the new year there will be seven new rules for the game of golf.

  1. There is no penalty if you accidentally move your ball (or ball marker) on the green. Put the ball back, and you’re good to go. The same applies if you’re searching for a lost ball and mistakenly move it.
  2. To improve pace of play, golfers now have just three minutes to search for a missing ball rather than five. In addition, the recommended allotment of time to make a stroke is no more than 40 seconds.
  3. Every time you need to drop a ball, you will now drop it from knee height instead of shoulder height.
  4. You are now free to touch/move any loose impediments and ground your club, in any penalty area (formally known as hazards).
  5. There is no longer a penalty for a double hit.
  6. There is no penalty for hitting the flagstick while putting on the green.

Courses may implement a Local Rule (not for competition) that offers an alternative to the stroke-and-distance penalty for lost balls or shots hit out-of-bounds. A player may drop a ball anywhere between where the original ball was believed to come to rest (or went out-of-bounds) and just into the edge of the fairway, but nowhere nearer the hole. The golfer takes a two-stroke penalty and plays on instead of returning to the tee. This way, the Local Rule mimics your score if you had played a decent provisional ball. Click here to view a visual.