R&A and USGA announce tweaks to the Rules of Golf for 2016

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Four new changes to the rules of golf to come into effect on January 1, 2016.

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Golf governing bodies the R&A and the USGA have announced their rules and revisions for golf for 2016. In addition to the much publicised anchoring ban, they’ve made three other changes to the rules of golf which will come into effect on January 1, 2016.

Every golfer should have a copy of the rules of golf in their bag, look for it at your local golf club in the coming months but here is a summary of each of the four changes.

A rule has been withdrawn that used to penalise a golfer one stroke if the ball at rest moves after it has been addressed. This will no longer be the case. If the ball moves and it’s not categorically true that it was caused by the golfer, no penalty.

There has also been a change to the penalty applied for signing an incorrect scorecard. Previously a golfer was disqualified if a golfer returned a card with a lower score than actually taken. It’s a strange one but essentially if the player did not know the rules and needed to add a few strokes because of a particular penalty, those strokes will be added as well as a two-stroke penalty for the incorrect card. Previously it was a DQ.

Here is a summary of the changes as outlined by the R&A:

The third lenient rule change means you a are only assessed a two-stroke penalty for your first infringement using an artificial device or equipment. Previously if you used a wind gauge or a training device on course it was instant DQ, now it’s a two-stroke penalty. However if you do it again – DQ.

And of course the anchoring ban:

Prohibition on Anchoring the Club While Making a Stroke
As announced in May 2013, the new Rule 14-1b (Anchoring the Club) prohibits anchoring the club either “directly” or by use of an “anchor point” in making a stroke. The penalty is loss of hole in match play or two strokes in stroke play.

It’s interesting to note that three of the four rules have been forced out of changes in golf technology. Every three to four years, tweaks made to the rules of golf in the hope they will simplify the game but in a sport so expansive as golf, with technology advancing so quickly, it’s a formidable, if not impossible task.