There are a host of new rules changes coming on line on January 1, 2019. They are not tweaks. They are wholesale changes that you need to know about. To put it mildly, much of what you know now about rules will be wrong.
Thanks go to the USGA for making it easy for me figure out what to write about this week.
These are a few of the easy ones, followed by the rule number. Remember, they’re effective as of January 1, 2019. Not until then.
1. There is no penalty if your ball played from the putting green (or anywhere else) hits the unattended flagstick in the hole. 13.2a(2)
2. When you have to drop a ball, your ball must be let go from knee height (instead of shoulder height) and fall through the air without touching any part of your body or equipment. 14.3
3. Your ball is lost if it is not found in three minutes (rather than the current 5 minutes). 18.2
4. If you declare your ball unplayable in a bunker, relief is allowed outside the bunker for two penalty strokes. 19.3b
5. The use of distance-measuring devices will be allowed unless a Local Rule has been adopted prohibiting their use. 4.3
6. If your club accidentally strikes your ball more than once during a stroke, there will be no penalty and your ball will be played as it lies. 10.1a
7. For all of you who thought it was so lame for some of the best players in the world (see the LPGA Tour) to have their caddies confirm their alignment, you’ll be happy to know this will be prohibited. 10.2b(4)
8. The out-of-bounds penalty no longer needs to be stroke and distance, but that’s not a given, and the drop procedure is complicated. See the USGA web site, referenced below.
There’s more. A lot more. If you want to see all the new rules, go to the USGA web site. They have clearly written explantations and videos which really do a good job of explaining the changes.