Why The Rules Of Golf Modernization Is Important To PGA Professionals

By Vincent Bachteler, PGA



With the new golf season just about to start, the biggest buzz in golf might actually be about the new Rules of Golf. Being a self-proclaimed Rules geek, this is a welcome sight for me and I’m excited to play and officiate under the new code. It is the biggest set of changes since 1984 and has been a work in progress for seven years. The USGA and R&A created a task force by inviting all the major golf organizations to work through this modernization together. This group created a new, player-friendly, and simplified version of the Rules that encourages every golfer to play by the Rules. The number of Rules went from 34 to 24, and from 1,300 decisions to 300 interpretations to help eliminate the idiocies that made the Rules so hard to understand. It is now time for golfers at all stages to learn this new code and then begin the education process with your fellow golfers.

The most important reason why you should learn the new Rules is because you play the game. Whether it’s with friends, members at your club, or even in a pro-am, you should always play by the Rules. Rule 1.3b says that players are responsible for applying the Rules to themselves. This is one of the few games where the player is responsible for knowing the rules and applying penalties to themselves. It would be terribly difficult to play by the Rules if you do not even know what the Rules are.

Knowing the Rules can also save you strokes during your round. The new Rules are much more forgiving now and knowing all your options when you get into a difficult spot could benefit you greatly. It could be relief that you didn’t even know was allowed from an abnormal course condition, the new relief options for a ball in a bunker, or knowing all your options when you hit a ball in a penalty area. The Rules are there to help you much more than hurt you now.

The USGA and R&A have three official books on the Rules of Golf and are targeted to different demographics. The Player’s Edition of the Rules of Golf is a condensed version of the Rules and is written in second person to make it easier for players to understand the Rules. This book is designed to be thrown in a golf bag and referred to while playing. The Rules of Golf book is the full version of the Rules and slightly bigger than rules books from the past. Keep this one in the pro shop and refer to it with basic ruling disputes. Both books can be ordered for free on the USGA Publications website. The Official Guide to the Rules of Golf has the full rules, interpretations on the Rules, and Committee procedures on how to conduct a competition. This is designed for Committees and more complicated rulings.

The USGA Rules of Golf app is also an excellent resource for you. It contains all three Rules books, videos, quizzes, and articles to help you understand the Rules. It also has a search feature that helps you quickly find the right Rule for whatever situation you are in. USGA.org also has a heap of additional resources as well. There are infographics and videos that help the explain the Rule changes and decisions.