The region’s annual fall Rules of Golf seminar was held December 8, at Argyle
Country Club in Silver Spring. Conducted by USGA Director of Rules Education David Staebler,
it focused on the latest rules revision that will go into effect January 1,2019.
Players and officials alike will appreciate the fact the final document reflects
the name of the group that put it together: Rules Modernization Initiative
conducted by past and present representatives of the golf committees of the
Royal & Ancient and the USGA, along with all levels of the game, and has heeded
the feedback from thousands of gofers worldwide.
All will see the direction this is headed by some of the declarations:
Make the rules easier to understand
Simplify where possible the language and procedures with a more modern ease of
Promote faster Pace of Play.
Perhaps the two new rules that will grab the attention of all are concerned with
dropping the ball and searching for a ball.
Gone is the shoulder-length drop; here to stay is dropping the ball straight
down from knee-height without hitting player or equipment. (In many places the
rule book uses colored pictures and/or graphics to illustrate).
As part of the pace-of-play emphasis, the time limit on a ball-search has been
reduced from five to three minutes.
Additionally, the recommendation is now that a player make a stroke in no more
than 40 seconds. Players should be able to play more quickly than that and are
encouraged to do so.
Getting to the heart of the problem, it is stated that each player should
recognize that his or her pace of play is likely to affect how long it will take
other players to play their rounds, including those in the player’s own group
and those in following groups. At the same time, remember that a group is
responsible for staying in contact with the one in front and that how far it is
in front of the group behind does not factor into the situation.
To avoid undue delay, players and officials are alerted to new
stroke-and-distance and line-of-sight situations where playing from the proper spot becomes of
As far as the book itself goes, the design is easier to follow and lets one find
what is needed. Another new and important item is the presence with each rule of
a Purpose Statement to help better understand the principles behind each rule.
One thing has not changed — the onus to play by the rules remains with the
The meeting was sponsored by the Middle Atlantic Golf Association and the
Washington Metropolitan Golf Association and attracted a gathering of 80 people.
In attendance were rules volunteers and staff from the following organizations – Middle Atlantic GA, Maryland State GA, Mid-Atlantic Section of the PGA, Harrisburg GA, Pennsylvania GA, Virginia State GA, and the USGA.