New proposed Rules of Golf

Maybe it’s not that cut-and-dried for golf fans still digesting the sweeping new proposed Rules of Golf that the USGA and R&A offered in March golfers are never going to stay silent when it comes to offering opinions about the rules.

“I think it’s been overwhelmingly positive,” said John Bodenhamer, USGA senior managing director of rules, competitions and equipment standards, of the feedback that’s been obtained so far.

Besides coming to a consensus about what from the proposed rules changes will remain and what will be modified or dropped, logistical issues must be also be worked so that the overall rollout continues in a timely manner to have the rules set for implementation on New Year’s Day 2019.

What will live will be what Bodenhamer calls “The Handbook,” the former Decisions on the Rules of Golf, that he anticipates will be used by tournament committees and rules officials for guidance.

Bodenhamer said the goal is to have the final draft of the new rules available in spring 2018 (with no specific date yet set) so that educational training be held the remainder of the year for rules officials and players alike.

The former was in regards to the change in the procedures for dropping a ball and the creation of relief areas that are either 80 inches from the reference point (for drops next to a penalty area or for an unplayable lie) or 20 inches (all other drops).

Some of the questions have surrounded the logic behind the 20 and 80 inch areas, but mostly they have focused on whether a drop from an inch above the ground really constitutes a drop at all, or whether placing the ball would be just as effective.

He says this from practical experience, as he helped organize with the USGA a play day earlier this year in which the new rules were taken out on the course to let golfers “test” them as well as allow USGA officials to see them being applied and used on the course.

Mahoney said the opportunity to test the rules with real golfers was beneficial for him, his organization and, he thinks, the USGA, to see how practically things might be impacted when the new rules are scheduled to go into effect.