Golf just changed a bunch of rules, giving you plenty of new reasons to want to break your clubs

Related Story: 50 shades of play: R&A re-writes the golfing rule book

Golf has changed its rules in a bid to speed up play and make it more attractive to people trying to get into the game.

Key points:

  • Golfers will be encouraged to play a stroke within 40 seconds, but usually faster
  • Players have three minutes to find a ball before it is ruled lost and a drop is taken
  • Drops will be done from knee height, rather than shoulder height

The list of rule changes has been described as the biggest shake-up of the sometimes-archaic sport in decades and took effect on January 1.

The new playing rules will affect the Jordan Spieths and Jason Days of the world, but also the weekend hackers, many of whom will likely take particular interest in the reduction in the amount of time players are given to find a lost ball.

That number has been reduced from five minutes to three minutes, and if you ground your club while in a hazard or accidentally stumble into your ball and move it, neither of those things will be penalised — instead, you can simply replace the ball to its original spot.

External Link: A YouTube video explaining the new rules of golf in detail

You can also remove impediments from the area around your ball in bunkers or hazards without fear of being penalised.

While your playing partner is looking for his or her ball, anyone in the playing group can hit next because, under the new rules, "ready golf" is being encouraged.

Ready golf is exactly what it sounds like: allowing players to play on (within reason) rather than wait for the player who is furthest from the pin to play their shot every time.

Players are also being encouraged to play a stroke within 40 seconds.

The rules around taking drops have also changed.

Players have to measure the semi-circular relief area with the longest club in their bag, not including their putter, and drop within that area.

Diagram showing a person dropping a golf ball into a legal zone known as a relief area

Then, instead of dropping the ball from shoulder height, players will drop from knee height — ideally reducing the distance a ball can bounce and roll after the drop, thus speeding up playing time.

There are other rules aimed at not penalising minor accidental errors that have clearly not been made in order to gain any advantage.

Unintentionally bumping your ball while on the green will not elicit a penalty stroke, but the rules do not seem to eliminate penalties for small mistakes like Lexi Thompson's at the first major of 2017, when she picked up her ball and replaced it slightly to the side of its original lie.

Players can also clean up and repair blemishes on the green caused by equipment or wildlife, even in the area between the ball and the hole.

Players are also allowed to leave the flagstick in the hole when putting and there will be no penalty if the ball hits it.

While some of these changes may sound immaterial, they are a big step forward for a sport that is often criticised for being bogged down by pedantry and stuck in the past.

Take a look below to brush up on the new rules before your round this weekend.

External Link: New rules of golf pamphlet

Original Article

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