The R&A and the United States Golf Association (USGA) has published the 2016 edition of the Rules of Golf for both professionals and amateurs, which are due to come into effect on January 1, at the start of a year when sport is due to make its return to the Olympic Games after a 104-year absence.
The rulebook is the result of the usual four-year review of the game, conducted by the two organisations, and applies to all golfers worldwide.
The key changes to the professional statutes include abolishing the rule on ball moving after address, which means players will now not be punished if the ball moves as they line up their club.
A new exception has also been created which will bring an end to player’s being disqualified for returning a lower score for a hole than actually taken as a result of failing to include penalty strokes they did not know had been incurred.
The penalty for the first use of “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 objective with each four-year cycle of the rules is to monitor developments in the game and, when appropriate, to respond with changes that keep the best interests of the game in mind,” Thomas Pagel, senior director of rules of golf at the USGA, said.
“The amendments for 2016 preserve and enhance the essential principles of the rules, while at the same time ensuring that they reflect the evolution of the game.”
The main alterations in the amateur game featured in the the Rules of Amateur Status include players now being able to compete in an event where the prize money is awarded to charity and that golfers can claim “reasonable expenses” for non-competition golf related activities.
“The new Amateur Code continues to provide appropriate limits and restrictions to encourage the amateur golfer to focus on the challenge of the sport, rather than on any financial gains,” Pagel added.
“We also want to make it easier for golfers to return to the amateur sport if they no longer wish to play professionally.”
Golf will make its return to the Olympic programme at Rio 2016 having last appeared at St. Louis in 1904 when Canada’s George Lyon won the gold medal in the men’s individual and the US the men’s team event.
A video explaining the rule changes can be found by clicking here.
Liam Morgan, this article was republished with permission from the original publisher Inside the Games www.insidethegames.biz