USGA's Golf Rules Update

By USGA on March 07, 2017 golf Print

Modernizing Golf's Rules

Te R&A and the USGA are pleased to announce a major set of proposed changes to the Rules of Golf. These changes result from our Rules Modernization initiative that began five years ago in an effort to bring the Rules up to date to fit the needs of the game today globally. This initiative had two guiding themes:

  • Even far-reaching Rule changes should be open for discussion, but golf’s essential principles and character must be preserved.
  • Revisions should be assessed with all golfers in mind, so that the Rules are easier to understand and apply not only for professionals and elite amateurs, but also for beginners, high-handicappers and typical club and recreational golfers at all levels of play around the world.

We hope that the proposed changes will be a major step forward in pursuing the following goals and objectives:

Overall Goals. We want the Rules of Golf to:

  • Be more easily understood and applied by all golfers;
  • Be more consistent, simple and fair; and
  • Reinforce the game’s longstanding principles and character.

Specific Objectives for Revising the Substance of the Rules
. We want the new Rules to:

  • Use concepts, procedures and outcomes that are more intuitive and easier to learn;
  • Use a consistent approach for similar situations;
  • Avoid unnecessary concepts and exceptions that may create “penalty traps” for the player; and
  • Support broader objectives for the game, such as pace of play and environmental stewardship.

Specific Objectives for How the Rules are Presented
. We want the revised Rules materials to:

  • Be written in a modern, plain style that uses more common words, shorter sentences and explanatory headings, and that ends the use of male-only references;
  • Be easier to translate into other languages;
  • Make greater use of visual aids such as graphics, photos and videos;
  • Clarify the purposes and principles underlying each of the main Rules;
  • Include a version of the Rules that is written from the player’s perspective and focuses on what the typical golfer needs to know; and
  • Use technology to make it easier to search and review the Rules, both on and off the course.

Given the unusual scope of this initiative, we want golfers and others in the golf community to have a chance to give us their feedback. We encourage you to review the proposed changes, to try them out on the course over the next few months, and to let us know your thoughts. We will consider all input as we continue our work to finish the new Rules by early 2018. We plan to put them into effect on January 1, 2019.