The USGA is Changing The Future of Golf

Flashback to June 9th, 2016. Dustin Johnson found himself in a bizarre scenario. He was a couple of shots off the lead, and as he stood over a putt on the fifth green, adjusted to address the ball, it moved. It wasn’t until the twelfth tee that Johnson was informed that he still may be penalized under Rule 18-2.

The uncertainty grew as every golfer started posting on their personal social media accounts. The consensus was complete uproar with Rory McIlory branding the whole situation ‘ridiculous’ and said, “if it were me I wouldn’t have hit another shot.”

Now, bring yourself to present day and the impending golf season on the horizon. We have (at long last) been issued with 30 proposed changes to the Rules of Golf by the USGA and R&A. These proposed changes cover a wide range of issues.

Sitting towards the top of the list is that if a player accidently moves his or her ball or ball-marker on the putting green, it is no longer a penalty. Hmm, fancy that, ring any bells?

While it’s impossible to decipher whether the governing bodies have changed the ruling due to the chaos that ensued during that Sunday in June specifically, it appears the USGA and R&A are listening to players and fans alike.

We’re excited to see the rule makers ditching the old-school thinking, unnecessary rules and making golf more attractive to a new, younger audience.  Whether they do this by targeting slow play or increasing enjoyment out on the course, it really does feel like these proposed changes are a large effort from the USGA to stride into the 21st century. R&A Chief Executive, Martin Slumbers has called it, “the biggest change of our generation.”

Is it? The changes aren’t being made immediately and have entered a six-month consultation period, at which point they will be edited and released in the new rulebook at the start of 2019. If implemented, how will these rules affect the wider golfing landscape?

  1. It will help with enjoyment on the course. You won’t have to worry about accidently marking up the greens with their spikes.
  2. Play will be faster. There’s no ifs or buts about it - searching for a lost ball will be cut from five to three minutes. Players can opt for a 2-stroke penalty out of the bunker for some added relief. Plus, they are suggesting players take no more than 40 seconds to play their shot.
  3. It paves the way for non-traditional thinkers and innovators in golf to break into the industry with less opposition and bureaucracy. We’d be lying if we didn’t say that it makes us do a little happy dance on the tee.

We applaud the changes and look to Mike Davis from the USGA who summed up his vision as, “How come we can’t have an instance where someone can (take out their phone) and say, “Siri, I hit my ball into a water hazard, what are my options?”

Well Mr. Davis, if that’s what you’re looking for, you should probably call us! 

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