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Amendments to the Rules of Golf

Main Amendments to the Rules of Golf 2012-2015

The Rules of Golf are the same for every golfer in every country. They are revised every four years by the R&A and the USGA. 2012 is a revision year. Since the new Rules are now in effect, let’s take a look at some of the more significant changes.

Addressing the Ball
Old definition: The ball was considered to be addressed when the player took his stance and grounded his club. In a hazard, it was addressed when the player took his stance.
New definition: The ball is addressed when the player grounds his club immediately in front of or behind the ball.
1. Taking your stance is no longer part of the definition of addressing the ball. If the ball moves after you take your stance but before you ground your club, you will no longer be responsible for a subsequent movement of the ball under Rule 18-2b (Ball Moving After Address). See Rule below.
2. If you ground your club several inches behind the ball, you will not be responsible if the ball moves. Your responsibility begins when you ground the club right next to the ball, either in front or behind.
3. You will never officially address your ball in a hazard, since stance no longer counts and you are not permitted to ground your club in a hazard. If you take your stance, and the ball should happen to move, you are not responsible.
Note: You are always held responsible if you actually caused your ball to move, such as may happen when you dislodge a stone or step on a twig.

Rule 18-2b. Ball Moving After Address
Old rule: Once you addressed the ball, if it subsequently moved you were deemed responsible (regardless of whether it was your fault) and penalized one stroke.
New rule: If the ball moves after you address it, and it is known or virtually certain that you did not cause the ball to move, there is no penalty and you must play the ball from its new position.
Significance: This new rule will be a welcome change for golfers who play at courses with super-fast greens, for example. After you address the ball, if a gust of wind moves the ball, you will continue play from the new location and will not incur a penalty stroke.

Rule 6-3a. Time of Starting
Old rule: A player who arrived at the first tee later than his assigned starting time was disqualified. As a Condition of the Competition, a Committee could waive the disqualification penalty for a player who arrived within five minutes of his starting time and substitute a loss of hole/two strokes penalty.
New rule: If a player arrives late but within five minutes of his starting time, the penalty is loss of hole in match play or two strokes in stroke play. A player will be disqualified if he is more than five minutes late.
Significance: None as this is already a Sale Golf Club Rule.

Rule 12-1. Seeing Ball; Searching for Ball
Old rule: If your ball was in a hazard covered by loose impediments, and you happened to move the ball during your search, there was no penalty.
New rule: You will now incur a one-stroke penalty under Rule 18-2a (Ball at Rest Moved by Player) if you happen to move your ball in a hazard when you’re searching for it under loose impediments.
Significance: The rule is now uniform for the entire course. Whenever your ball is covered by loose impediments, and you move it during search, you will incur a one-stroke penalty. But remember that there is no penalty if you move your ball while searching for it in ground under repair or in an obstruction. Nor is there a penalty if you move your ball while probing for it in a water hazard. Nor is there a penalty if you move the ball whilst searching for it in sand.

Rule 13-4. Ball in Hazard; Prohibited Actions
Old rule: You were not permitted to rake the sand in a bunker prior to hitting your ball.
New rule: You are permitted to rake the sand in a bunker prior to hitting your ball, provided the sole purpose of the raking or smoothing is to care for the course and you do not improve your lie or the area of your stance or swing.
Significance: Remember those long treks across bunkers where you wished you could rake the footprints you were making behind you so that you could exit the bunker in a shorter direction after you hit your shot? Now you are permitted to do so. Also, you can rake areas of the bunker that were neglected by less considerate golfers while you wait for your turn to play.


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