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Know the Rules of Golf to Elevate your Game.

New Season New Rules…

Let’s give those wise Gentlemen Golfers from Leith a little credit as they unveiled the first Rules of Golf back in 1744. They wrote 13 brief, simple points to follow. Fast forward 275 years, things have gotten a wee bit more complicated…to the point where the rule book runs more than 200 pages. However, January 1, 2019 golf’s two governing bodies, the United States Golf Association and the Royal & Ancient, unveiled more than 30 changes to the Rules of Golf – some small, others significant – reducing the rules from 34 to 24 and (for the most part) streamlined a lot of complicated, hard-to-interpret language.

Let’s take a look at what triggered one of the most visible changes and how the modification might affect your game.

The Topic: Playing a stroke from the green… you hit the Flagstick with your ball.

The Old Rule: Hitting the flagstick with your ball from on the green resulted in a two-stroke

penalty.

New Rule: Leave it in. Take it out. Do whichever you want.

The New Rule: According to the USGA, under Rule 13.2a(2), “There will no longer be a penalty if a ball played from the putting green hits a flagstick left in the hole.” Players will still have the option to remove the flagstick or to have someone tend the flagstick and remove it after the ball is struck.

Why It Was Changed: The USGA cited its main reason for changing this rule was pace of play. “Allowing a player to putt with the flagstick in the hole without fear of penalty should generally help speed up play.” Because most golf rounds are not played with caddies, the process of taking the flagstick out to putt can delay play. The USGA’s calculations conclude that…. “On balance it is expected that there should be no advantage in being able to putt with the unattended flagstick in the hole.”

How It Can Help You: According to Noted Short Game Instructor Dave Pelz & PGA Tour Professional – Byrson DeChambeau both in good nature disagree. “The USGA’s gonna have to go back on this one. Scientifically, they made the hole bigger!’” There are now some strategic elements to this rule. Leaving the flagstick in means you should never miss a 3 foot putt. Instead of playing any break at all, just aim at the center of the cup, stroke the putt a little harder hitting the flagstick and the ball should go in every time.

With confidence, we can all agree where this rule can more reliably help is in pace of play. No longer do you have to feel a twinge of guilt for tapping in without first removing the pin. This is especially true when playing by yourself or playing in a hurry. Now it’s up to every golfer to decide: are you a pin-in or pin-out putter moving forward?

For more information on the 2019 Rules of Golf Changes consult your local PGA Golf Professional.

Timothy Davis, PGA 

Broadmoor Country Club.

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