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Rule Ch-ch-ch-Changes 2016

Rule Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes 2016

My ode to the late great David Bowie, and a nifty introduction to this week's Blog Post if I do say so myself.

As Mother Nature continues to be fickle and we are faced with yet another cool, wet, winter day here in Southeast Louisiana, I figured why not drop some knowledge on y'all, on the rule changes that the USGA and R&A introduced to begin 2016. The two governing bodies of the game we all play and love, get together every four years and look to address/update the game as technology continues to change.

Here is a look at the most significant changes to come out of this collaboration:

  • Withdrawal of Rule on Ball Moving After Address - Rule 18-2b (Ball Moving after Address) has been withdrawn. This means that if a ball at rest moves after the player addresses it, the player is no longer automatically deemed to have caused the ball to move. A one-stroke penalty under Rule 18-2 will be applied only when the facts show that the player has caused the ball to move.
  • Limited Exception to Disqualification Penalty for Submission of Incorrect Score Card - A new exception has been introduced to Rule 6-6d (Wrong Score for Hole) to provide that a player is not disqualified for returning a lower score for a hole than actually taken as a result of failing to include penalty strokes that the player did not know were incurred before returning the score card. Instead, the player incurs the penalty under the Rule that was breached and must add an additional penalty of two strokes for the score card error. In all other cases in which a player returns a score for any hole lower than actually taken, the penalty will continue to be disqualification.
  • Modification of Penalty for a Single Impermissible Use of Artificial Devices or Equipment - The penalty for a player’s first breach of Rule 14-3 (Artificial Devices, Unusual Equipment and Abnormal Use of Equipment) during the round has been reduced from disqualification to loss of hole in match play or two strokes in stroke play. The penalty for any subsequent breach of Rule 14-3 will continue to be disqualification.
  • 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.

Obviously the most talked about change that the USGA and R&A unveiled was the Prohibition of Anchoring the Club While Making a Stroke. This has been highly publicized and discussed since the announcement of the impending change back in 2013. Personally, I still don't get all the fuss over the "anchored" putters, but the rules are the rules, and when it comes to tournament play, it is back to the more traditional flat sticks of the past.

The rule that I feel will have the most impact overall is the Withdrawal of Rule on Ball Moving After Address. I was glad to see this addressed, as I always thought it ridiculous to penalize a player for extreme wind conditions (since on the putting surface is where this rule most frequently came into play).

If you would like additional information on the rule changes, or you would like to print a copy of the rules of Golf, you can visit www.usga.org or www.randa.org.

Now, if we can only get the "Powers that Be" to address the ball landing in a divot in your own fairway situation...