The Royal and Ancient (R&A) and the United States Golf Association (USGA) claim to have received positive feedback from more than 22,000 golfers in 102 countries on proposed rule changes for the game.
The R&A have described the changes, which are set to come into force on January 1, 2019, as the first fundamental review of the rules of golf since 1984.
The amendments will reduce the number of rules from 34 to 24 and organizers claim they have been “written in a user-friendly style with shorter sentences, commonly used phrases, bulleted lists and explanatory headings”.
Both the R&A and the USGA are keen to ensure the sport becomes quicker and easier to watch and gave golfers the chance to submit their views on the alterations in a survey until August 31.
While the feedback will continue to be analyzed over the next few months, several common themes have reportedly emerged.
It is claimed golfers are “enthusiastic about the scope and direction of the overall changes, such as pace-of-play improvements, the elimination of penalties and streamlined procedures”.
Golfers provided the most feedback on the putting green, the creation of “penalty areas” and the new dropping procedures.
Players also “strongly welcomed” the new players’ edition of the rules and found it much easier to read and understand, it is claimed.
Under the changes, there are plans to remove any penalty for accidentally moving your ball, while protocols for taking free or penalty drops could be relaxed to dropping the ball from an inch away from the ground, instead of shoulder height.
Players may also have a reduced amount of time, from five to three minutes, to search for a lost ball and fixed distances could be used instead of a club’s length to measure where it should be dropped.
The game’s rule-makers are also attempting to stamp out perceived slow play by recommending no player takes longer than 40 seconds to hit a shot.
Committees may also be asked to set a maximum shot limit for each hole to allow a player to continue with their round.
With the survey and evaluation period now complete, the R&A and the USGA and their respective committees will continue to review all comments received with the goal of finalizing the new rules next spring and beginning a comprehensive education program later in 2018.
“It is pleasing to see that so many people from different parts of the world have taken this opportunity to engage with the process of modernizing the rules,” David Rickman, the executive director for governance at the R&A, said.
“We have received insightful comments and suggestions from throughout the professional and amateur game and will take time to consider the feedback in detail.
“We will then work on finalizing the changes ahead of their implementation in 2019.”
By Max Winters
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.