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Golf, like everything else in life, is ever evolving. And 2018 has a few exciting changes to the rules of the game as we await the game-changing rule changes for 2019 to be published. Back to the new golf rules for 2018,the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of Saint Andrews (R&A) and the United States Golf Association (USGA) made a joint statement announced some significant changes to take place in the game of golf effective on January 1, 2018.

The 2018 new golf rules changes are being implemented as a “local rule,” meaning they affect each golf course differently according to the unique conditions of the course.The two golf governing bodies and the major professional golf tours deemed these changes too necessary to put off. The new golf rules are taken into effect as local rules until then.

First Major Change in 2018 Golf Rules: Wrong Score for Hole

The key change in rules is a new exception to Rule 6-6d, which relates to a player recording a wrong score for a hole. Here’s what rule 6-6d and its exception say:

“The competitor is responsible for the correctness of the score for each hole on his scorecard. If he returns a score for any hole lower than actually taken, he is disqualified. If he returns a score for any hole higher than actually taken, the score as returned stands.

Exception to the rule:

If a competitor returns a score for any hole lower than actually taken due to failure to include one or more penalty strokes that, before returning his scorecard, he did not know he had incurred, he is not disqualified. In such circumstances, the competitor incurs the penalty prescribed by the applicable Rule and an additional penalty of two strokes for each hole at which the competitor has committed a breach of Rule 6-6d. This Exception does not apply when the applicable penalty is disqualification from the competition.”

In the new golf rules, you will no longer be the two penalty shots for signing an incorrect scorecard if you as the player are not aware of violating the rule when you sign the card. The new rule is penalizing the number of strokes for the infraction itself.

Lexi Thompson’s four-stroke penalty

A classic example of how unfair the previous rule was, is the heart-wrenching story of LPGA player Lexi Thompson during the ANA Inspiration tournament (an LPGA Major) in April of 2017. She has penalized four strokes for wrongly replacing her ball on the 17th green during the 3rd round of the tournament. The 2-stroke penalty was for the infraction itself, while the other 2-stroke penalty was for signing an incorrect scorecard at the end of the round. Unfortunately for Lexi, she was unaware of the initial infraction at the time of play. The infraction came to light when a television viewer sent an e-mail to the LPGA alerting them about it. Poor Lexi didn’t become aware of the infraction until after the 12th hole in the final round – the following day. This meant she went from leading by two strokes to trailing by two strokes. She bravely rallied to tie the event at the end of regulation play. Eventually, Lexi lost to South Korea’s So Yeon Ryu in a dramatic (and teary) playoff. Lexi is not the only one to have suffered from this rule. It also bit Tiger Woods, as well as Dustin Johnson.

Second Major Change in 2018 Golf Rules: New Video Review Protocol

The second significant change in the 2018 rules of golf is an off-spin of the first rule.

This new golf rule strips viewers of their power to direct how the game plays out. It happens when the viewers are sending their observations of infractions in a game – live or recorded. The sponsoring organization cannot take directives from a viewer’s comments.

The new golf rules will be implementing these video review protocol for events under the patronage of the professional golf tours that were part of the group responsible for drafting the changes. These include the PGA Tour, LPGA, PGA European Tour, Ladies European Tour, and the PGA of America. They have also encouraged other organizations that run televised golf events to adopt the protocol.

Some officials are to monitor the video broadcast of a tournament. It will help identify and resolve any rules issues as they may arise.

New Golf Rules – A Better Game for Everyone

These new golf rules are very much welcome amidst some resistance to changes. It’s a win-win situation for players and viewers alike. The game of golf has just become better. It will undoubtedly go a notch higher as the 2019 changes roll out on the 1st of January 2019. Fore!

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